In the exciting/frustrating world of Disney World ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations), some restaurants just seem to be tougher to get into than others. And the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of those more difficult tickets.
So in 2013, the Disney gods (or Imagineers or restaurant planning mavens) smiled and — poof!– the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge was born.
And it was good. Right from the start, the Lounge became one of our favorite places to drop in unannounced. We could get all the glittery Hollywood-ness of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant without an ADR!
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge is a walk-up outdoor spot (with a section of ‘indoor patio’ seating as well). Basically it’s like you’re every Hollywood starlet who dines al fresco with the hopes of gracing a tabloid cover. Only you’re you, and you’re in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and you’re more likely to wind up accidentally photobombing someone’s vacation selfie. Still. It’s almost the same.
We love, LOVE the food here. We have raved about (and continue to salivate over) the Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad (it’s kind of the restaurant’s signature dish), and you can order the appetizer portion in the Lounge. Genius! And then there’s the Grapefruit Cake. We loved it so much we even figured out how to make it! Seriously, guys: the list goes on and on.
But on this visit we were after something that maintains a coveted spot #OnTheList. (That’s our ever-growing bucket list of Disney food and drink that we can’t get enough of. (We know we’re not the only ones with a List. C’mon, y’all, ‘fess up.) Yes, that’s right. We ordered a Margarita Flight.
And because we love you and will do anything in the name of research for you, we also ordered a Martini Flight. I believe Maui said it best: You’re welcome.
But also: Thank you. Because we love these drinks. The fact that there are three different varieties in each flight makes these a literal wayfinding mission for your tastebuds. And they will be feeling happy when you’re done. So happy. If you know what I mean.
The Margarita Flight (which we tried and loved a few years ago) features three distinctive flavors.
The Classic is strong — but in a good way. It’s exactly what you want when you order a margarita, and then the bartender pours a Grand Marnier float on top, and you’re sort of at the next level of Classic Margarita-ness.
Of course the tequila, cointreau, lime juice, and sweet and sour mix are a marriage made in cocktail heaven. A slice of lime and a salt rim complete the Classic Margarita. And she’s a beauty.
The next marg incarnation is the Mango Margarita. Talk about transporting us to the tropics (you know, in case central Florida isn’t tropical enough for ya)!
We love the bright yellow/orange color, but it’s the taste that’s the real standout here. The Mango Margarita is crafted with tequila, cointreau, mango juice, and sweet and sour mix. To finish off, it’s garnished with an orange slice and a sugared rim. So. Good. Like who-cares-if-it’s-95-degrees-with-100%-humidity good! We love the sweet/citrusy/tangy combination.
To finish off the Margarita Flight, the leading lady with the strongest sweet-meets-sour vibe: the Pomegranate Margarita.
It’s, like, perfectly pink. And the marriage of tequila, pomegranate liqueur, and sweet and sour mix works so well. We love that bright red cherry on top too. (Not for nothin’, we won’t complain about the sugar rim either.)
The Margarita Flight is a bargain at $14.25 if you ask us. Your palate can play with each flavor, and you get to figure out what works best for you. And if all three work best for you, we simply can’t and won’t judge. In fact, we concur. Go on with your marg self.
The Martini Flight (also $14.25) is another of our favorite Derby Lounge drink items.
Golly, it’s pretty. Like little, tiny jewels (filled with liquid goodness).
We like to start with the Classic Gin martini. It sort of sets the stage for the variations that follow.
The Classic Gin martini is created using cucumber and rose petal-infused gin and dry vermouth. It’s garnished with an enormous green olive. (Your olive may vary.)
It’s essentially the same size as the door Rose was floating on at the end of Titanic. But it tastes better. We love the briny olive and the careful balance of liquor on liquor.
The Citrus Vodka martini is the citrus-lover’s dream cocktail. It’s a thoughtful blend of citron vodka, cointreau, and simple syrup.
There’s a little bit of lemon peel floating in there as well, to drive home that citrusy profile. A smattering of sugar on the rim plays nicely with the tart citrus.
The final member of the Martini Flight trio is the Derby Cosmo, and it gets a bunch of thumbs up from us. (Executive Derby decision: you can give more than two thumbs up if you want. It’s pretty much necessary here.)
What’s so special about this drink is the inclusion of pear vodka. Combined with the Grand Marnier, a splash of cranberry juice, and a buoyant cherry, it finds a balance that can sometimes be lost in Cocktail Land. The pear vodka tones down the sweetness to make the Derby Cosmo a unique and utterly drinkable drink.
Wanna see it all in action? Check out our video review!
You can not go wrong at the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. The restaurant is inspired in all ways by a classic and world-renowned (real) Hollywood establishment, and every time we visit the Lounge, we get to partake in that Old Hollywood world. There’s something sentimental about it, and the food and drinks always impress — so we just keep going back.
The Margarita and Martini Flights are a super fun way to try different flavors but still get the old standbys (done really, really well). And you get to be part of the Hollywood elite for a little while in Disney’s own little Hollywood paradise.
Have you enjoyed the Brown Derby Lounge? Fill us in below!