The Arnold Palmer

The Arnold Palmer

Proof that American imperialism isn’t always a bad thing, the Arnold Palmer is a good example of American ingenuity. I first came across this drink just a few years ago, when reading A Passion for Ice Cream by Emily Luchetti. She talked about this mysterious drink with an off-beat name, one named after a famous pro golfer, which was said to be his favorite post-golf drink, a mixture of iced tea and lemonade.

bartender arnold palmer

I don’t know much more about the origin of this drink because I’m sitting in my office (above, right) and don’t have access to my usual arsenal of resource materials. But it really is the perfect beverage for lounging on the beach getting some work done. The ice tea is a good way to perk up and the lemonade tempers it with a bit of sweetness and citrusy tang, thanks to the juice of fresh lemons.

I didn’t think anyone in Mexico knew what an Arnold Palmer was until Brooke ordered one. And when I gave her a funny look, as if to say, “Brooke, they’re not going to know what that is.” She told me that yes, they’d made her one before. In fact, I just ordered one a little while ago and the bartender made it for me. I asked if he knew what it was and he said “¡Claro que si!”, or “Certainly!”

In a tall glass he put a dash of something like lemon soda, some sparkling water, and then something from a liquor bottle. (I don’t say anything, because that would be rude, and possibly imperialistic.) After he added a dash more of each, including whatever was in that mysterious bottle, he topped off the glass with iced tea and I carried it back to my makeshift office.

arnold palmer chicken mole

Yes, indeed. It went well with the newspaper and the lull of the surf. (But since it’s not sugary-sweet or alcoholic, one can spend as much time as they want in their lounge desk chair and not have to get up and you-know-what every few minutes.) And when it was time for lunch, I waddled up to the restaurant where I’d convinced myself that after almost of week of eating myself silly on Mexican food, that I’d just have a light salad or some vegetables.

Unfortunately I made the mistake of passing by the chicken mole and, well, there’s some expression about the “best intentions…” But since I don’t feel like looking that up either at the moment either, I’m just going to enjoy the chicken mole—and another Arnold Palmer, before heading back to finish up my work.



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  • Jessica
    January 10, 2011 11:32pm

    This entire post = hilarious. Enjoy your trip, David!

  • January 10, 2011 11:33pm

    Arnold Palmer is from my town… it is a great drink too!

  • Erica
    January 10, 2011 11:37pm

    For those of us who have ever lived in Latrobe, we all know what an Arnold Palmer is. :-)

  • January 10, 2011 11:43pm

    Or you can have a Spiked Palmer which is sweet tea vodka (only available in the states im sure) and lemonade. so good…

  • January 10, 2011 11:44pm

    If only I were in Mexico right now…The Arnold Palmer somehow seems inappropriate in drab Paris weather.

  • Jocelyn
    January 10, 2011 11:48pm

    Love the Arnold Plmer.
    @Shira – my family an I like to call that the Parnold Almer :)

  • Sharon
    January 10, 2011 11:52pm

    David dear, you need to spend more time in the old south. Iced tea with all kinds of lovely additions are quite the thing. We LOVE tea – straight, straight up, with a twist or a shot. Yum. Have fun in the sun.

  • January 10, 2011 11:53pm

    When I moved to the South from the Midwest, I worked at a popular sandwich chain and everyone was ordering Arnold Palmers and I had no idea what they were! I quickly learned, but realized that while I neither like lemonade that much or iced tea that much, together, they’re great!

  • January 10, 2011 11:54pm

    Indeed, this is one of my favorite refreshing drinks on a hot day. Looks even more refreshing on the beach in Mexico!

  • January 10, 2011 11:54pm

    Sounds like a really refreshing drink. If Arnold Palmer read this post, he would be very pleased with the respect he is getting:)

  • David Stone
    January 10, 2011 11:58pm

    For no reason better than his excellent name, we have taken to calling this drink a Fuzzy Zoeller when made with herbal iced tea.

  • Rosa
    January 11, 2011 12:08am

    As a college student who’s not big on alcohol, the Arnold Palmer is my go-to drink when out with friends. I order with confidence, and I’ve never been teased about not getting drunk–I think half the people don’t even know that it’s only lemonade and iced tea! I’ve even had some of the heartiest partyers ask what it is because they are thinking of ordering one for themselves. Afterall, who can resist the urge to try an exotic drink they’ve never heard of? :)

  • Mary Knoll
    January 11, 2011 12:12am

    Back in the 1970s in the Midwest – this drink was popular at my parents’ golf club’s mid-course snack shack. The Arnold Palmer wasn’t the only quirky drink on the menu, however. We also enjoyed the “19th Holer” – a combination of equal parts Guernsey Farms chocolate milk and Vernors Ginger Ale.

  • A non-alcoholic cocktail…what a concept!

  • January 11, 2011 12:46am

    That’s my husband’s favourite drink. He tries every single version he finds. The Trader Joe’s one is pretty respectable. It still seems kind of novel to us though, so I’m pleasantly surprised you’re enjoying it in Mexico!

  • liz
    January 11, 2011 1:19am

    Arnold Palmer’s are huge in the South. Also known as “teamonade” in some places. For non-alcoholic, I also really like club soda with Pechaud’s bitters and lime. Very refreshing and adult tasting for times when you don’t want alcohol but don’t want to resort to cokes.

    A few years ago, my husband and I started drinking what we dubbed the John Day – an Arnold Palmer spiked with a healthy slosh of bourbon! It’s the perfect summer cocktail.

  • Laurence
    January 11, 2011 1:29am

    We also call it half-and-half.

  • January 11, 2011 2:07am

    arnold palmers are the best thing in the world on a hot summer’s day. hands down, amen!

  • PC
    January 11, 2011 2:09am

    I live in So Cal now so AP’s are everywhere here, but my mom has been making ice tea for summer picnics sweetened with lemonade for my whole life, in fact, I was shocked the first time I ordered ice tea in a restaurant, and it was unsweetened!

    My mom is an immigrant from Taiwan and we lived in Canada, so I’m pretty sure she didn’t get this idea from a golfer. Just goes to show, great ideas cannot be contained.


  • Wynn
    January 11, 2011 2:13am

    I call the spiked version with sweet tea flavored vodka a John Daly. Add a splash of Triple Sec. Yum!

  • Thea
    January 11, 2011 2:21am

    I read Mr. Palmer sipped these to quench a hot day’s thirst during a round to avoid caffeine jitters impairing his putting stroke

  • Shari
    January 11, 2011 2:31am

    I have never wanted to be on a beach with a drink, -alcoholic or non in my hand more than I do at this very minute. Unfortunately i’m typing this while looking outside at gloomy sky, bare trees, dirty snow and frigid temperatures. *sigh*

  • January 11, 2011 2:57am

    I am in Mexico right now. In fact, I’m in Mexico, my home, most of the time, and this drink would be great on our balmy 80 deg. day today. How about making it with green tea? Lime juice instead of lemon juice? (Lemons can be few and far between in Mexico, but key limes abound.) Maybe a dash of Grand Marnier? All right, enough thinking about it — I’m off to make one.


  • Ashley
    January 11, 2011 3:36am

    Your writing is so wonderful. When I first bought my ice cream machine for 7 dollars at Salvation Army, I stumbled on your recipes and first learned how to make ice cream. Thank you so much!

    You are doing a cooking class at my Central Market in San Antonio, Texas and I really wanted to attend but the class was full a month ago. I really wish I could have seen you. Your menu for the evening looks amazing.

  • January 11, 2011 3:44am

    These were wonderful and definitely paired well with the mole. I think you need to consider permanently relocating your office..

  • Jean Marie
    January 11, 2011 3:49am

    Arnold Palmers are delicious and a perfect “work” beverage. I was introduced to French lemonade many years ago – in Mexico. It was sparkling and wonderful and I was never sure why I had to go so far south to taste it. I had many of them while lounging in my “office.” (so glad you’re having fun!)

  • January 11, 2011 4:08am

    One of my favorite drinks to order at, you guessed it, the golf course. Hope you are putting in long hours at “the office” in that very uncomfortable “desk chair”.

  • k graham
    January 11, 2011 4:26am

    In the late 80’s I was executive chef at a very historic and famous country club near Latrobe, Pa. We had huge crockery dispensers of the mix for every meal and I was told it had been that way since the 50’s. All the other clubs served it also so I think it was part of that area’s culture.

  • January 11, 2011 4:47am

    When you wake to minus ten F in the imperialist land, you’re not aching for lemonade and iced tea – but on second thought – if could will my mind to believing I was in Mexico – this would be perfect.

  • January 11, 2011 4:48am

    The AP is my daughter’s favorite summer libation. I’ve considered putting in a shot of vodka for myself. She’s not a drinker but I adhere to my long held belief that lemonade and vodka have a natural affinity so why not an Arnold Palmer? Anyway, they have little packets that make an AP instantly. It may not be fresh brewed but it does pretty well in a pinch. Travels well too…

    The beach looks so lovely and warm… lucky dog, lucky dog ;)

  • January 11, 2011 4:50am
    David Lebovitz

    Claudia: Believe me, I am fully aware of how cold it is back home. Am soaking in every minute of sunshine and warmth. And chicken mole. And tortillas.

    liz + Wynn: I like the idea of adding a shot of something. Will have to do more experimenting!

  • January 11, 2011 5:02am

    I love all your posts, and truly love that recent recipe for Cold Noodles and Peanut Sauce, but this one is just perfectly priceless. Now Ive got to look up what’s in that Arnold Palmer. Enjoy that working conference! Or is it that lounging conference! And please come and visit me in my little teeny cottage in Bourgogne any time you’d like. Whether Im there or not!

  • January 11, 2011 5:05am

    No alcohol? No way! But I agree with the post above.. it lends itself to vodka.

  • January 11, 2011 5:08am

    Check out the John Daly- the alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer ( I had my first a few years ago on a trip to Nantucket and it was love at first sip.

  • January 11, 2011 5:09am

    This is named after a pro golfer? Hmm… I wonder what a Tiger Woods cocktail would be made of. Lychee syrup to represent the lipgloss of his floozies, orange peel the bitterness his wife must have felt, absinthe to explain away the bad decisions… :P

  • January 11, 2011 5:25am

    MW.. thanks… checked out your blog… and saw the pix! …using Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka (Which I have) and lemonade is a great idea!

  • January 11, 2011 5:53am

    One of my favorite things about going home to South Florida for Christmas every year is asking for an Arnold Palmer and not getting any funny looks. Everyone south of Orlando–at least on the East Coast–knows what an Arnie is. One of my favorite drinks ever. Wrote about it ages ago here:

  • January 11, 2011 5:59am

    Trust me David, I’m missing those A.P.s already now that I’m truly back in a desk chair in NYC and not a lounge one in MX! What an incredible time in Mexico. Food Blogger Camp was fantastic. I learned SO much. As soon as I post my video and pics of my trip to a Mexican market to make ponche, I’ll be sure to send it your way.

  • January 11, 2011 6:10am

    Yes, the Arnold Palmer is a most refreshing cocktail, BUT, even Arnold Palmer might have liked a kick in it as a post-golf drink. I invented “Steve’s Fairway Fizz” for my favorite golfer, complete with a “golf ball” garnish.

  • Brooke
    January 11, 2011 7:13am

    David, thanks for bringing me and my non-alcoholic drink choice with you to the beach. I wish I was still there and hanging out with you! Thanks for the shout out! xoxox B

  • Linda at Pink Elephants coffee,LLC
    January 11, 2011 7:35am

    We make lots of sun tea and experiment with mixing herbal flavor teas. And the Lipton
    Cold Brew is very good. My favorite is Sugar Plum Spice sun-brewed with green tea
    (not matcha). Unfortunately, we can only find the Sugar Plum at Christmas time,every
    two years. The lemonade thing is quite Southern, but I will try it. Is pink better?
    Imperialist America? It starts with our fascist parents. …. Oh, dear. Then there is socialist Netherlands, and who knows WHAT France is anymore. My francophile pals
    left there, decades ago, with much disappointment and the vow to never go back. And
    they are anything BUT “ugly” Americans. I think it’s a good idea to keep it friendly with

  • Claudia
    January 11, 2011 7:52am

    If you are looking for something tart and sweet try agua de jamaica, the darker the better; almost like cranberry juice . Did you know they made enchiladas de mole? You will probably love corn tortillas even more than before.

  • Linda
    January 11, 2011 10:21am

    It’s good to be a king!

    As for myself, I would add a tad of gin.

  • January 11, 2011 10:40am

    Ohi ohi, you made me curious about the Arnold Palmer and definitely jealous about the office; but you sure deserve to be there MUCH much more than me, because .. if I was there, ….. I wouldn’t get any work done at all , and I’d manage to get drunk with the A.P. even though it contains no alcohol :-)

  • January 11, 2011 12:37pm

    back to you David with – finally – a new computer! What a truly wonderful and hilarious/infectuous/joie-de-vivre immersed post this is! I just wish I were there…
    Happy (belated) New Year and to many more posts and years to come :)

  • January 11, 2011 12:52pm

    The AP and is so very good, but how could it not be improved with a little shot of sweet tea vodka? Love that idea. I’ve got to find some of that vodka. . .and one of those desk chairs on one of those beaches. Now where’s my tube top?

  • January 11, 2011 3:17pm

    We can buy it in stores here in the States- pretty good stuff. Manufactured by Arizona Iced Tea. And you’re in Mexico, I’m very, very, jealous…….

  • Claudia
    January 11, 2011 4:27pm

    David ask for a “Frozen Arnold Palmer” it’s is even more delicious in the beach I used to live in Cancun and ordered all the time. Gosh I’m so jealous good thing I’m in Mexico right now and I’m also enjoying tortillas, quesadillas, enfrijoladas (try those for breakfast) etc before I go back to Argentina. When life gives you lemmons…. drink Arnold Palmers enjoy your time at work!!!!

  • January 11, 2011 4:47pm

    I always thought this drink was original to me. I was at a serve yourself place and got ice tea which was way too strong so instead of adding lemon slices I halved it with lemonaide which made it delicious. Oh well.

  • Jill
    January 11, 2011 5:19pm

    I live just outside Philadelphia and there’s this drive thru mini-mart that’s pretty exclusive to our area called Swiss Farms. They make something similar called “Tea Cooler” and it’s awesome! Probably loaded with a lot more sugar than the classic Arnold Palmer, but pretty tasty and refreshing on a hot day.

  • Ann K
    January 11, 2011 5:20pm

    So many good ideas to rev up the wonderful AP. I vote for a shot of Campari (and maybe a little extra sugar).

  • Frances Mercer
    January 11, 2011 6:55pm

    Enjoy your lounging……(I’m crossing out work and inserting work). Love the story; keep us posted. Really….enjoy it….you deserve it.

  • Frances Mercer
    January 11, 2011 6:56pm

    Ooops, I meant to say crossing out lounging and inserting working…..

  • Tags
    January 11, 2011 7:25pm

    I like to fill a glass 3/4 full of unsweetened iced tea, add orange juice until almost full, then add an appropriate flavor of “Le Sirop de Monin” to taste.

    Very nice, and light.

  • January 11, 2011 8:12pm

    Do you think the mystery bottle was bitters of some sort? I love Arnold Palmers, but they’re usually just lemonade and unsweetened iced tea. Sometimes I get a smidge creative and use green tea. Num.
    Also, thanks for the link to your typos article in your last post. I absolutely hate reading typos because it completely stops me in my tracks (I’m a teacher). Your perspective made me realize that I should stop reading blogs as though they’re student papers. :-) I mean, surely there are plenty of typos in my blog as well. So thanks, and enjoy the sun.

  • January 11, 2011 9:25pm

    hehe! i love your jitteriness about being imperial. i have traveled in mexico and it plagues me too! beautiful, beautiful place though, i hope you enjoy it.

  • January 11, 2011 9:53pm

    This is my favorite summer drink. Still get a kick out of remembering an incident where I ordered one at the golf club over lunch with family–my very religiously conservative aunt got all huffy puffy snarky about it, and was absolutely scandalized, until my grandma asked what was in this drink I seemed to like so much, and my aunt found out it wasn’t booze. Heh. I’m still snickering about that one.

    Enjoy, David!

  • John
    January 11, 2011 10:06pm

    This is a slight twist on a drink my grandfather used to make. After dinner, he made a gallon of strong sweet tea (a cup of sugar to a gallon milk jug) each evening for the next day. He would then fill a glass with ice cubes, a shot of vodka (or white rum, I was a kid, I had no idea what it was, it could have been moonshine), a splash of orange juice, and then top the glass with the still warm sweet tea. That glass of tea didn’t last him long in the evening heat of the NYC summer.

  • Suzanne
    January 11, 2011 11:02pm

    Hi David,
    The Tazo green tea has spearmint and lemongrass undertones that make the Arnold Palmer sublime. With mint leaves of course. Even in winter. Especially the morning after drinking one too many.

  • Melanie
    January 11, 2011 11:05pm

    You can do one better than adding vodka to an Arnold Palmer–try your favorite (unsweetened) iced tea with a healthy splash of limoncello…it’s an all-grown-up AP!

  • January 12, 2011 12:27am

    PS–I think a bit of limoncello would be delightful during those sweltering Parisian August days…

    When the Italian festival is at Place d’Italie (end July or early August?) you can find some delicious limoncellos available.

  • JB
    January 12, 2011 3:13am

    There is something served at Koshy’s in Bangalore, India very similar to this, but generously spiked with local dark Indian rum (brand name “Old Monk”) They just call it rum and tea I think and it is basically iced tea,simple syrup, and fresh lime juice (Indian lemons which are more like small lemons than lime). No special name to it, but damn good.

  • January 12, 2011 4:22am

    I discovered Pimm’s this summer, courtesy of my English cousin, so Arnold Palmer, bring it on! (is it as good as Pimm’s?)

  • Kelf
    January 12, 2011 11:39am

    Hello David, I knew your blog by “lovers of culinary happening in my country (Brazil). I am passionate about French cuisine and pastries, I think the philosophy of a good lover of culinary experience is varied dishes and learn how to taste was your last refeição.Apartir now always go into your blog would buy me inform about our tastes, keep this excellent work you are doing,
    even more, bye.

  • January 12, 2011 2:26pm

    I’m quite happy to discover AP in the US too since the iced teas here are usually bland and they give sugar to sweeten it which doesn’t really dissolve well nor does it taste as good as when syrup is added (how it’s done in other countries). So the lemonade does perk it up and add that tiny bit of sweetness that I like. Enjoy your trip!

  • January 12, 2011 7:54pm

    I had never heard of this drink until I started working as a waitress in a nursing home,and they called it as Arnie and I was like “You wanna drink a what?” .I like mine with a shot of bacardi lemon.

  • January 12, 2011 8:08pm

    I love the Arnold Palmer. The homemade version is so much better than the canned, full of HFCS kind they sell in convenience stores here in the states.

    Funny thing is, my Grandma always had iced tea in her fridge and it was so much better than the normal kind…. turns out it was actually an Arnold Palmer and she just didn’t know there was a name for mixing iced tea and lemonade!

  • January 12, 2011 10:01pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never had an Arnold Palmer, I’m so boring, predictable. I need to expand my adult beverage list providing it’s nearly sugarless… again, boring.
    Love your office! Score!
    Sounds like lots of fun.

  • January 12, 2011 10:05pm

    How lucky are you? Living in the dreary Pacific Northwest a beach in Mexico looks heavenly! And an Arnold Palmer is a perfect accompanyment. I actually like mine with a little crushed raspberries and some mint. Looks like a lovely “work day.”

  • Ruth
    January 12, 2011 11:15pm

    David, one of your funniest posts…i think you’re new office environment agrees with you! thank you for bringing a bit of sun to this crazy snow day (18 inches) while i’m here visiting new york!

  • January 13, 2011 3:54am

    Glad to see you enjoyed the “office” well after we had all gone home to humdrum, non 5-star lives ;)

  • January 13, 2011 5:51am

    It’s 5 degrees in Colorado…But, hey! We made Arnold Palmers w/ the addition of some simple syrup, fresh mint, vodka and a little extra fresh lemon juice –last summer, of course. I wanted to call them something else, but my husband insisted we name them Sub-Par Arnold Palmers. Of course, they just became “Sub Pars.” I love porch drinks. Have fun in the sun…

  • January 13, 2011 5:50pm

    Arnold Palmers are VERY popular in L.A.

    If you get one with Green Tea, it’s called the Tiger Woods. Somehow I think that’s not very PC.

  • Alison Greco
    January 13, 2011 6:23pm

    As with everyone, I love an Arnold Palmer. This summer I took to adding limoncello to my iced tea and found it was a lovely treat.

  • January 13, 2011 6:24pm
    David Lebovitz

    I gotta say, I’m surprised at all the boozy variations there are out there. How do you guys get any ‘work’ done?

  • linda
    January 15, 2011 7:16pm

    sorry can’t stand an AP they sell it with the iced teas here and it is horrible,why ruin good iced tea

  • Ramon Ferreyros
    January 16, 2011 5:07pm

    Great article, many many comments, some very good, some not so; but!! why is it that nobody even tries to post the RECIPE for the Arnold Palmer?

  • January 16, 2011 11:19pm

    Here is a twist on the AP, credit to my sister. Infuse a quart of vodka with a couple of teabags, like Earl Grey, plain green tea or whatever suits you. (Steep like you would for sun tea.) Chill the vodka in the freezer of refrigerator. Combine one ounce of tea vodka in a tall glass with ice and fill with sparkling lemonade-wow! It became my favorite summer drink last year.

  • Jill
    January 18, 2011 7:20pm

    We make something we call a Dorcas Neagley….beer and lemonade! Love a nice cold AP in the summer too :o)

  • trace
    January 21, 2011 4:43pm

    I love a ChiChi Rodriguez….the same, but with limeade!

  • January 27, 2011 6:47am

    I love the Arnold Palmer! I always order it if I see it on the menu or make it myself at one of those places that let you self serve your drinks and there is both ice tea and lemonade. I stumbled upon this video a while ago and thought it was funny and feel this is quite an appropriate time to share it

    By the way, I am just reading The Sweet Life in Paris and LOVE it! You are hilarious!