If Arnold Palmer really was the first to mix lemonade and iced tea, one can look at the entire history of human beings on Earth and ask, “what took so long?” Aside from the obvious idea to mash two Summer drinks into one, it’s more likely that people had been doing such things all along, and it just needed a name when it came time to sell it. It’s also likely that people have been spiking their Arnold Palmers as long as they’ve been mixing tea and lemonade, but it had to wait for John Daly before it had a name. Yes, the John Daly is a thing, it’s an Arnold Palmer with vodka, and you can even buy it in a can from Daly himself. Grip it and Sip it. We’ll skip the clever names for our version of an Arnold Palmer with whiskey, the Whiskey Palmer. It’s a simple drink, and likely made under a variety of names, but it makes sense. Whiskey is a great match for lemon, and so is tea, for that matter. Why not put all three together?
The Whiskey Palmer is a cocktail you can make as fancy or as simple as you like. Heck, we’ve even made it with Newman’s Own Lemonade, Arizona Iced Tea, and Jack Daniels. It just works, but, if you make the effort, imagine all the goodness of the convenient choice replaced with something homemade? Or the Tennessee whiskey replaced with something local? Sounds like a great Saturday afternoon.
Mixing this cocktail by the glass is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but how much time do you want to spend brewing one cup of tea after another. No, this is one time when batching your ingredients is the best way to go, so first make a pitcher of lemonade. It’s best to cut back on the sugar and keep it tart because we do recommend using sweet tea, and overly sweet lemonade will bring too much sugar. Unless you like it super sweet, which is the best part of making your own ingredients. You get to decide how sweet, or how tart you like it.
For the tea, you could use what you like, of course, but black tea will work the best. Make sweet tea as you like it, but we think sweet tea, as in Southern sweet tea, should be very sweet. You don’t need to add anything but sugar, but, if you want to get creative, try muddling some fruit, such as peaches or berries, into your tea. When making tea, make a full pot well in advance so you don’t have to chill it with ice. Adding ice to hot tea just dilutes it, so no go. Also, there’s no need for a pile of tea bags either. One tea bag is all you need to make a pot of tea, so don’t waste.
When mixing, we like to keep the tea and lemonade in different pitchers and mix in the glass, that way we can accommodate guests who just want lemonade or iced tea, or an Arnold Palmer instead of the alcoholic Whiskey Palmer, but the Whiskey Palmer is so easy to scale, several pitchers and a bunch of cups makes for a great punch and allows you to join the party with plenty of beverage ready.
You’re only decision, once you have tea and lemonade, is which whiskey? American whiskey, of course, and while you could use bourbon, which makes a great Whiskey Palmer, our choice is First City American Whiskey from Trail Distilling. The Whiskey Palmer is a bright, refreshing drink that should be a bit of a pick me up quencher on a hot day, or when you’re thirsty and want something that isn’t soda. First City whiskey matches that with a brightness of it’s own, and just enough barrel age to compliment the corn notes prevalent throughout. It’s also not super sweet, so you can add as much or as little to your drink as you like. The Whiskey Palmer is like that. A splash of whiskey will do, or make it an equal parts cocktail and drink up. DIY or die, right?
In the end, simple cocktails are cocktails, too, and there’s no reason one can’t enjoy one you can gulp as much as one you can sip. Especially when the cocktail in question is so adaptable to both taste and convenience, and you don’t even need a single digit handicap to pour one.
To a pitcher, add all ingredients and stir to mix.
Heat water to about 140 F (60 C), remove from heat, and add the teabag. Steep for 3-4 minutes.
Remove the tea bag and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar disolves.
Let the tea cool to room temperature, pour into a pitcher, and finish cooling in the refrigerator.
Build in a collins glass or tumbler with ice. Stir to combine, and garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.
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