The Kentucky Oaks was established on May 19th, 1875, by the same founder of the Kentucky Derby, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, and is modeled after the British Epsom Oaks. It is held annually on Friday, the day before the famed Kentucky Derby.

The event is known for its fashion, food, and drinks, with the most famous being the Derby Day favorite Mint Julep. However, in recent years, another beverage has gained popularity among the race-goers – the Lily.

The Official Kentucky Oaks Lily
The Official Kentucky Oaks Lily // Image courtesy of

The Lily is the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks and was introduced in 2006. The drink is a refreshing blend of vodka, sweet and sour mix, triple sec, and cranberry juice. It is served in a souvenir glass that features the Kentucky Oaks logo and is garnished with a blackberry and a lemon wedge.

The Official 2023 Kentucky Oaks Lily Recipe:

  • 1 part Finlandia Vodka
  • 1 part Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 1/4 part Triple Sec
  • 3 parts Cranberry Juice

The drink was named after the racehorse, Lil E. Tee, who won the 1992 Kentucky Derby. The horse’s owner, Marylou Whitney, was a philanthropist and a major contributor to the Kentucky Oaks. In her honor, the drink was created, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the cocktail is donated to the Marylou Whitney Foundation, which supports various charitable causes.

The Lily has become increasingly popular over the years and has even become a staple at the Kentucky Derby, which is held the day after the Oaks. The drink’s vibrant pink color and refreshing taste make it the perfect beverage for a springtime horse race.

Apart from being a delicious cocktail, the Lily has also helped to raise significant amounts of money for charity. In 2019, the drink’s sales raised over $350,000 for the Marylou Whitney Foundation, which supports cancer research and education, equine health research, and the arts.

The cocktail has become a symbol of the spirit of the Kentucky Oaks and the generosity of its attendees. It’s a testament to the power of philanthropy and how a simple drink can make a difference in the lives of those in need.

The Lily drink is a refreshing and flavorful cocktail that has become a beloved tradition at the Kentucky Oaks. The drink not only pays tribute to a legendary racehorse but also supports a worthy cause. So, the next time you attend the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby, make sure to try the Lily and contribute to the Marylou Whitney Foundation.

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