White Carnation: The Drink That Makes Creamsicle Dreams Come True

The white carnation cocktail may be named after a flower, but its true inspiration lies in a childhood favorite treat: The orange creamsicle. White carnations combine vodka, peach schnapps (specifically Mathilde Péche), orange juice, soda water, and a splash of heavy cream for a refreshing drink that's sweet, a little citrusy, and ultra creamy. To assemble, add the vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, and ice to a mixing glass and stir, then strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with the heavy cream and soda water. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and an orange wheel to serve.

Befitting of its jolly taste, this orange creamsicle-inspired treat features a proportionately accessible strength, clocking in at a 12% ABV, on par with another O.J.-centric cocktail, the screwdriver. Since orange juice is the star of the show here, opt for fresh-squeezed to get the best flavor — and, in the same vein, there's no need to waste your top-shelf vodka in this cheerful sipper.

Some bartenders add an egg white for a frothy mouthfeel, which is made even more interesting with the addition of the fizzy soda water, preventing the white carnation from becoming too rich and keeping it light. However, if you choose to add an egg white or aquafaba, keep in mind that you'll need to assemble your white carnation in a cocktail shaker rather than a mixing glass. To do this, combine all the ingredients except for the soda water and vigorously wet-shake, then strain into that same ice-filled highball glass and top with the soda water.

Refreshing sips at the racetrack

While chances are probably pretty slim that you've heard of it before, white carnations were once a pretty happenin' bevy. For years, the white carnation was the official drink of the Belmont Stakes – the last leg of the Triple Crown horse races, held in Elmont, New York every June. In 1998, the cocktail was usurped by legendary bartender Dale DeGroff's Belmont Breeze. The newcomer was a major departure from the bright, playful white carnation, instead starring bourbon, dry sherry, and cranberry juice. Indeed, horse racing and bourbon drinks have emerged as something of a dynamic duo over the years (Mint Julep-loving Kentucky Derby fans, rise up). The Belmont Breeze has again since been replaced by the bourbon-pomegranate-lemonade Belmont Jewel cocktail, but that's another story.

For a true orange creamsicle homage, you could use vanilla coffee creamer in place of the heavy cream. To keep the dark liquor theme running (pun intended) with this former horse race emblem, white carnations could also totally be made with orange Jameson in place of vodka. You could even lean into the namesake and garnish your white carnation with an edible flower like a marigold or apple blossom for a final touch sure to bring smiles to cocktail hour or brunch (white carnation flowers are also edible, for the record.) If you're feeling ambitious, the white carnation would benefit from a floral sugar rim too.