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Alcohol & Spirits

Arnold Palmer Drink Fight: Skooby's vs. Clementine

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 10:00 AM

As the story goes, it was sometime in the 1960s and golf master Arnold Palmer was thirsty after a day of designing a golf course in Palm Springs. As The King himself tells it, he asked the clubhouse bartender to make him a drink he often made at home: iced tea with lemonade. Someone -- a woman -- overheard his order, and either because she found the idea of the drink interesting, or because she was a foot soldier in Arnie's Army, asked her server if she could have what he was having. And so the Arnold Palmer drink was born.

The proportions of the drink vary; Palmer himself appears to have liked a three to one ratio of iced tea to lemonade, though equal parts of each ingredient seem to be the most popular rendition of his drink. In any case, a great Arnold Palmer maximizes the strengths of its parts: the iced tea cuts a bit of the lemonade's tartness, and the lemonade gives the iced tea that bit of sugar and lemon many of us would ordinarily add to our plain iced tea anyway. For this edition of drink fight, hot dog stand Skooby's tees off against tony bakery Clementine to see which spot makes the better Arnold Palmer. And yes, you can expect more golfing puns.

A few years before Papaya King opened, Skooby's was where you would go if you were looking for a hot dog in Hollywood, or if you were a tourist in Hollywood, or both. Not content with being a mere hot dog stand, though, Skooby's set out to make the best fries in the city and the best lemonade in the state. If the latter hefty claim turned out to be true, its Arnold Palmer would be hard to beat.

click to enlarge Skooby's Arnold Palmer - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • Skooby's Arnold Palmer

Lemons line the walls and windows of Skooby's, and they're freshly squeezed throughout the day for the house lemonade. The lemonade indeed is good, but California's best? Maybe not: it was a bit too tart, which overwhelmed the iced tea a bit and knocked the whole drink a little off balance. Overall, while it was tasty with the delicious French fries we ordered, Skooby's rendition was just par for the course as far as Arnold Palmers go.

On the other side of town, Clementine in Century City offers Arnold Palmers to complement its seasonal menu of sandwiches and baked goods (we suggest the Sloppy Joe and chocolate chip cookie, respectively). In a twist on the traditional Arnold Palmer, Clementine makes its version with freshly squeezed limeade, not lemonade, and adds it to a tropical iced tea. The drink here is $2.50 for the cup, just a quarter more than the drink at Skooby's.

This combination of limes and fruit tea is an inspired, delicious take on the basic Palmer. The two complemented each other wonderfully, and the proportion of limeade to tea hit the spot: not too fruity, not too sweet, and not too tart. In other words, a hole in one, perfect for a warm, sunny day.

Clementine wins this round. But, for those of us yearning to make an Arnold Palmer the way Arnold Palmer makes his Arnold Palmer, head out to Local in Silver Lake. There, the restaurant's self-serve lemonade and iced tea stations invite you to perfect your drink. If you're lucky, someone will like what you're doing, happen to know your name, and ask for it at the counter. Unlikely to happen, yes, but then again, legends aren't born. They're made.

click to enlarge Clementine's Arnold Palmer - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • Clementine's Arnold Palmer

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