The Arnold Palmer Origin Story
Arnold Palmer, who died yesterday at the age of 87, will be remembered by many as one of the greatest golfers of all time and one of the nicest. Palmer’s golf skills made him an athlete, but his charisma and congenial personality made him a star and helped popularize the sport. His status as cultural icon extends from the World Golf Hall of Fame to the refreshing beverage to which he gave his name — a mix of iced tea and lemonade.
Palmer's drink of choice was iced tea with a healthy splash of lemonade (his preferred ratio was actually three parts iced tea to one part lemonade, despite the common Arnold Palmer recipe of equal parts of each).
In the ESPN 30 for 30 short film "The Arnold Palmer,” Palmer said he came up with the combination on a whim at home. He suggested the idea to his wife, who made the drinks for him to mix, and he liked the result so much he started ordering it at golf clubs when he was on the road, asking servers to mix his tea with some lemonade. The first time the drink had his name, according to the story Palmer told, may have been in Palm Springs — a woman sitting near him asked her waiter for the Arnold Palmer, indicating what he’d ordered. By the late 1960s, the name had caught on.
The drink is known as a half and half to some folks, and it's unlikely Palmer was the first to mix the two classic refreshments (simply adding lemon to tea has long been popular, too). But the widespread popularity of the drink in the States is largely thanks to Palmer.
There are several spots in L.A. where you can enjoy a craft Arnold Palmer with house-made juice and tea. Lemonade and Clementine are both known for theirs (featuring fresh-squeezed lemonade and limeade, respectively).
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles makes a beautiful two-tone version (instead of mixing the drink for you, they serve it with the lemonade on the bottom, tea poured on top) made from sweet tea and lemonade. This version has a serious following of fans who swear it's the best Arnold Palmer ever made. (The restaurant calls the drink Lisa’s Delight.)
Any spot that makes a great lemonade and ice tea can mix the two for you, of course. And for some people, an Arnold Palmer always means grabbing a paper cup at a fast food spot and mixing the iced tea and lemonade from a soda fountain until the ratio is right.
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