This is the Fascinating Story of How Arnold Palmer Created His Famous Signature Drink

This is the Fascinating Story of How Arnold Palmer Created His Famous Signature Drink

If you're drinking half-lemonade and half-iced tea, you're not drinking an Arnold Palmer.

By The Feast Staff

"I imagine Arnold Palmer walks into a restaurant and they ask him what he's drinking, and he says, 'well what the hell do you think I'm drinking?" That's Will Arnett, introducing the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that tells the story of the famous beverage, named after the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, who passed away on September 25 at the age of 87.

In his unprecedented golfing career, Palmer amassed 93 international tournament trophies, including four World Masters, and created a worldwide media audience for the formerly elites-only sport. And he did it all while living a famously bon-vivant life: eating well, drinking his share of cocktails, and smoking cigarettes. As for the drink that bears his name, the story goes that he created it in a lightbulb moment involving his wife, a pitcher of iced tea and an after-work lunch.

As Palmer tells 30 for 30, "My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, 'Hey babe, I've got an idea.' You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we'll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works. We mixed it up...I had it for lunch after working on the golf course. I thought, 'Boy, this is great, babe. I'm going to take it when I play golf. I'm going to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.'"

Palmer goes on to expain how the drink became famous, before AriZona Iced Tea bought the rights to the name and started marketing the massively popular canned version in 2012: On a day in  the 1970s when it was "about 115 degrees," Palmer says, he went into a restaurant and asked the waitress for an "iced tea, with about a third or a quarter of it lemonade." A woman at the next table overheard him and told her server, "I want an Arnold Palmer." From there, says Palmer, "it spread like wildfire."

Sure, you can customize your tea-lemonade hybrid however you want, but if you want to drink it Palmer's way, go heavier on the tea, lighter on the 'ade.

"Oh, iced tea has the dominant side," says Palmer in the documentary. "That dominates the drink, and if it doesn't, it isn't really right."

On the other hand, Museum of Food & Drink founder Dave Arnold points out in the documentary that "the issue with the etymology of drinks is that they're almost always bullsh**it." Multiple stories abound about who invented which drink and when and how. But "the question isn't who did it first," adds Arnold. "The question is, why are you drinking it now? And the reason you're drinking it now is Arnold Palmer."

So go ahead, mix up an AP however you like it, and add shots to it if you want (we don't think Palmer would mind a bit). Just know that, if it's not an iced-tea-and-lemonade-but-heavier-on-the-tea, it may be delicious and all. But it's not really an Arnold Palmer.

[via First We Feast]

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