It is generally considered bad luck to toast someone with a soft drink, but in the case of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, who has died at the age of 87, it might just about be acceptable. Although he won more than 90 tournaments in the course of a career spanning over half a century, those of us whose interest in golf extends no further than the 19th hole will remember him chiefly for his favourite thirst-quencher.
The Arnold Palmer is, like the man himself, a crowd-pleaser – a mixture of two American summer classics, iced tea and lemonade – and the King claimed to have come up with it at home after a morning’s practice. A woman heard him describing it to a waitress, demanded the same, and a classic was born. At first, Palmer was too embarrassed to order it by name, but he got over it; no doubt a lucrative licensing contract with a drinks company helped.
But just like golfers, some Arnold Palmers are better than others. It shouldn’t be too sweet, for a start: its creator was adamant that “iced tea dominates the drink, and if it doesn’t, it’s not really right”. And not just any iced tea, either: Palmer’s wife used to make it herself, and so should you. Stewed breakfast leftovers just won’t do: steep a tablespoon of loose-leaf black tea (or four teabags) in a litre of cold water in the fridge for about four hours, then remove the tea.
Decent lemonade is easier to come by, but to make your own, cut up an unwaxed lemon and whiz it up, peel, seeds and all, in a blender with the juice of one and a half more, plus 50g white sugar, a pinch of salt and 550ml water. Then add plenty of ice, and combine with iced tea to taste – Palmer preferred three parts tea to one part lemonade. He was also partial enough to Ketel One vodka to endorse it – which should serve as a hint as to your final ingredient. Just in case there is any truth in the old superstition about toasting without booze …