The Derby is of course all about the Julep—but the Oaks has a different color scheme altogether. (photo by Renee Wilmeth for Wine and Whiskey Globe)

So now comes the Kentucky Derby—and we trust you’ll know what to do about that.

But racing fans and Kentucky-born natives know that Churchill Downs hosts another famous race the day before the Derby, The Kentucky Oaks. For those who make a weekend of the festivities (and for many locals who like to skip the hoi-polloi of Derby Day), the Oaks is an equally grand tradition. Known as Ladies Day for the marquee fillies race, the Oaks has its own dress code (anything pink or floral) and even its own cocktail—The Oaks Lily. 

This year, the first stop in the Triple Crown was postponed from its usual first weekend of May to Sept 4 and 5. While it may seem strange to put on your seersucker jacket or floral hat for Labor Day weekend, a cocktail will make it all seem just a little less strange.

This year, with social distancing measures in place, the Oaks will run without spectators, so find a cool leather seat in the Jockey Club (otherwise known as your own air-conditioned living room) and have a drink just in time for the Call to the Post.  

What make the Oaks Lily cocktail special?  Pink is the color of the day and this drink has it in spades. Some versions are more like a Cosmopolitan over ice where others are more like pink lemonade. Regardless of how you like yours, you need this trifecta of basics: Vodka, cranberry juice, and lemon. And don’t forget the traditional blackberry garnish.

The Oaks Lily

1.5 oz vodka

.5 oz orange liqueur (Choose from our handy primer)  

.5 oz simple syrup

.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 oz cranberry juice

Fresh blackberries and lemon to garnish

Fill a highball glass with ice.  Add all ingredients and stir. Decorate with the blackberry and lemon slice.