The Mint Julep is the undisputed champion of horse-racing drinks. Its relation to the Kentucky Derby is indelible, but you don’t have to know what a furlong is to enjoy an ice-cold julep. The same sentiment applies to the Oaks Lily, the official cocktail of the Bluegrass State’s other big horse race, the Kentucky Oaks, which dates back to 1875.
The Kentucky Oaks takes place at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby. Rather than simply doubling up on juleps, the race serves its own signature cocktail to attendees. The light, refreshing drink takes its inspiration from the Cosmopolitan and features vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, lemon juice and simple syrup. So, it’s everything you want on a warm day.
The cocktail’s pink hue is a nod to the garland of stargazer lilies placed on the race’s winning filly, as well as the race’s association with breast cancer awareness. To support the cause, attendees often don pink attire, from suits and dresses to elaborate hats, and selflessly order Oaks Lillies throughout the day.
You, however, don’t need to attend the festivities or wear pink to enjoy the Oaks Lily. All you have to do is merge the ingredients in a glass to channel the fun-loving atmosphere of race day. The Cosmo-like combination will quench your thirst no matter where you are or when you drink it. But after one sip, you may be encouraged to make the pilgrimage to the place of its birth.
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
- 3 ounces cranberry juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Garnish: 2 blackberries
- Garnish: lemon wheel
Add the vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, lemon juice and simple syrup into a highball glass, then fill with ice and stir gently to combine.
Garnish with 2 skewered blackberries and a lemon wheel.