The Unsolicited Endorsement: The Arnold Palmer

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by Brian Clarey

The golfer Arnold Palmer may not have been the first man ever to mix ice tea with lemonade — it’s pretty intuitive, after all — but he’s the one who gets to slap his name on it. And even though Palmer won seven majors during his golfing prime, his exploits on the links will fade in comparison to the delicious libation to which he’s lent his name.

Kind of like Don Meredith. When I was a kid I didn’t realize he was a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. I just thought he was a hired spokesman for Tetley tea.

As the story goes, Palmer ordered one at the bar while he was in the process of winning the 1960 US Open at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo.

This year, in my house, the Arnold Palmer is the drink of the summer.

It was the drink of the summer last year, too, due in part to its timeless quality: Lemons go great with ice tea — the flat taste of the tea leaves responding so well to the blast of citrus — and a little more sugar never hurt anybody, right?

Last year we bought it in bottles and big cans, until we discovered we could blend our own at a lot of self-serve soda fountains in town.

But this year we’re doing it in house. I got a box of the big teabags and a clear pitcher so I could brew it in the sun on a table in my backyard. A dark brew works best, so I let it steep for hours out there.

You’d think a guy like me would want to use fresh lemons in my Arnold Palmers, but that’s not the case. We experimented last year with lemon juice and raw sugar, and non-sugar sweeteners such as xylitol and honey.

But what works best, tastewise, is the crappy, powdered lemonade mix loaded with white sugar and with very little, if any, actual lemon in it at all. Put the lemonade mix directly into the tea and cut the whole mixture with water until it turns golden brown. Pour it over ice in a tall glass, and try not to drink it all at once.