Kentucky Oaks Lily Drink

Celebrate springtime with the official cocktail of the Kentucky Oaks race, the Oaks Lily drink. This vodka and cranberry pink drink is worth trying.

A refreshing blackberry lemonade served with ice in a tall glass, garnished with a lemon slice and blackberries, inspired by the famous Oaks Lily drink of the Kentucky Oaks.

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Kentucky Oaks Lily Drink recipe

Did you know the Derby isn’t just limited to Saturday? It’s actually a weeklong event! There are events every day from the preceding Monday all the way through the annual Run for the Roses.

The Friday before Derby Day, there’s a whole other race between the 3-year-old female horses, known as the Kentucky Oaks. Saturday’s Derby welcomes colts, geldings, and fillies, making it unusual for non-male horses to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

If you find yourself at Churchill Downs, you won’t be served a mint julep for this race. The Oaks has its own drink inspired by the lily garland the Oaks winner earns: the Kentucky Oaks Lily drink.

This hot pink vodka and cranberry juice cocktail has sweet spring flavor. It tastes like berries and sunshine. Let’s get into what it is and how to make it.

More derby cocktail recipes: Basil JulepKentucky MuleWhiskey Smash

Why you’ll love this recipe

If you’ve never tried an Oaks Lily, you are going to love it. It tastes similar to the Madras cocktail but with blackberries and orange liqueur.

  • The Kentucky Oaks Lily is another derby-season drink to enjoy, but it’s delicious all spring and summer long.
  • If you’re not a whiskey or mint julep fan, the Oaks Lily drink is a great alternative in Kentucky Derby season.
  • With just four ingredients, this flavorful drink is as easy to make as it is to sip.
A refreshing Oaks Lily cocktail with lemon and blackberries on a white background.

What is the Kentucky Oaks Lily?

The Oaks Lily is the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks, a horse race that takes place in Louisville, Ky. the day before the famous Kentucky Derby. The name Lily comes from the blanket of fresh stargazer lilies that are placed on the winning filly’s shoulders.

This refreshing drink features vodka in a departure from the Derby’s signature bourbon whiskey mint julep. Vodka is mixed with sweet-and-sour mix, triple sec and cranberry juice to create a light and bright drink that’s then garnished with lemon slices and fresh blackberries.

These signature drinks are hot pink because pink is the official color of the Kentucky Oaks, a race for female horses only. The emphasis on pink pays tribute to the Oaks’ official flower, the stargazer lily, while also driving attention to the fight against breast and ovarian cancer. Attendees are encouraged to incorporate pink into their outfits — crazy hats welcome.

There are other drinks unique to other horse races. The Mint Julep, of course is the most famous Kentucky Derby drink. The Black-Eyed Susan Cocktail is served for the Preakness Stakes, while the Belmont Jewel is enjoyed for the Belmont Stakes.

Tools & glassware

What do you need to make the Oaks Lily? A basic bar set, to start, consisting of a jigger and bar spoon.

This pink drink is usually served in a stemless wine glass or a tall glass. (But you could pour it into a mint julep cup if you wanted!)

For the garnish, you can drop the lemon slices and berries right into the drink, or you could spear them on a cocktail pick for an elegant look. Serve it with a straw if you use a highball glass

A top-down view of a refreshing Oaks Lily, garnished with a lemon slice and a blackberry.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to grab at the grocery store to make this recipe:

  • Vodka: Finlandia Vodka is the official sponsor of the Kentucky Oaks, so it’s a fine choice, but any quality vodka will work well here.
  • Sour mix: This is a sweet lemon-lime cocktail mixer you can buy and use in many cocktail recipes. For an even better drink, consider making your own with fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, sugar and water.
  • Orange liqueur: This orange liqueur adds a hint of fresh summery flavor to the Kentucky Oaks Lily drink. You can use any clear orange liqueur, such as the inexpensive triple sec or the top-shelf Cointreau.
  • Cranberry juice: Be careful of buying “cranberry juice cocktail,” which has added sugar and will make a sweeter cocktail. Look for 100% cranberry juice, which has a more natural sweetness.

Garnishes

There are two main garnishes for the Oaks Lily drink:

  • Fresh blackberries
  • Lemon slices

You have the option to either directly add the lemon slices and berries into the drink or skewer them on a cocktail pick for a more sophisticated presentation.

How to make a Kentucky Oaks Lily

Here’s how to make this easy and different Kentucky Derby cocktail:

Pouring a clear Oaks Lily into a glass with ice cubes.
Pouring a Kentucky Oaks Lily drink into a glass filled with ice cubes.
Pouring an Oaks Lily into a glass filled with ice cubes.
Pouring Oaks Lily into a glass with ice cubes.

In a glass filled with fresh ice cubes, combine vodka, sour mix, triple sec and cranberry juice.

A hand holding a golden spoon stirring a tall glass filled with ice and a pink Oaks Lily beverage.

Gently stir the mixture to thoroughly chill and blend the ingredients.

Garnish the drink with fresh blackberries by dropping them directly into the glass.

For a more elegant presentation, skewer a few blackberries along with lemon slices onto a cocktail pick and place it on the rim of the glass.

Hand garnishing a tall glass of Oaks Lily, the signature Kentucky Oaks beverage, with a lemon slice and blackberry.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:

  • Make your own sour mix with simple syrup and freshly-juiced lemon and lime juices for a fresher-tasting cocktail.
  • To elevate the presentation, use a large, clear ice cube or spear in place of regular ice cubes in your drink.
  • Experiment with different ratios of cranberry juice to adjust the sweetness and tartness of your Kentucky Oaks Lily to suit your taste preferences.

Food pairings

Serve the Oaks Lily drink with your favorite derby foods, such as pimento cheese and crackers or classic deviled eggs.

For dessert, why not make Kentucky bourbon balls or chocolate bourbon pecan pie. A citrusy Southern dessert like lemon bars would also pair well with the fruity flavors.

When to serve them

Of course, the Oaks Lily is the ideal drink for a Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby party.

But you can serve them all year long. They’d be great drinks for:

  • other horse-racing events
  • wedding showers
  • baby showers
  • bachelorette parties
  • luncheons, picnics and barbecues
  • spring and summer parties
A refreshing Oaks Lily cocktail with ice, lemon slices, and whole blackberries on top, served in a tall glass.

FAQ

Can I use a different type of berry instead of blackberries for garnish in the Kentucky Oaks Lily cocktail?

Feel free to experiment with various berries such as raspberries or sliced strawberries to add a different flavor and look to your drink.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Kentucky Oaks Lily?

Absolutely! You can substitute the vodka and triple sec with a clear zero-proof spirit that has a citrusy flavor. You can also simply omit the alcohol and replace them with additional sour mix and cranberry juice for a delicious Kentucky Oaks Lily mocktail.

More derby drink recipes

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A refreshing Oaks Lily cocktail with ice, lemon slices, and whole blackberries on top, served in a tall glass.

Kentucky Oaks Lily Drink

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Discover the refreshing Kentucky Oaks Lily cocktail recipe. It's a perfect Derby party drink with vodka, cranberry and a hint of citrus!
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ingredients

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce sour mix
  • ¼ ounce triple sec
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • fresh blackberries for garnish
  • lemon slices for garnish

instructions

  • In a shaker, combine vodka, sour mix, triple sec, and cranberry juice. Shake well.
  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice.
  • Garnish with fresh blackberries and lemon slices.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 5.25ounces Calories: 169kcal Carbohydrates: 24g Protein: 1g Fat: 0.3g Saturated Fat: 0.04g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g Sodium: 24mg Potassium: 149mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 20g Vitamin A: 59IU Vitamin C: 37mg Calcium: 22mg Iron: 1mg
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