Last updated on July 18th, 2020
It’s standard shorthand nationwide to refer to a half-lemonade, half-iced tea drink as an “Arnold Palmer,” but for me, the name has a deeper personal connection.
In Latrobe, a western PA town a few minutes away from my home, you can fly into the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. You can buy a Cadillac at Arnold Palmer Motors. At the Latrobe Country Club, you won’t play bingo; you’ll shout “ARNIE!” if you win.
Latrobe was always home to the legendary golfer and businessman, and the city is justly proud of its native son.
And though Palmer—who orders his namesake drink as a “Mr. Palmer”—actually came up with the winning combination of lemonade and iced tea in Palm Springs, I like to think of it as a hometown drink, as native to the region as Iron City and Rolling Rock.
(Incidentally, Latrobe was also home to Mister Fred Rogers, and if you travel just a few miles further east on Route 30 toward Ligonier, you’ll be able to grab a trolley to visit Daniel Striped Tiger and the Land of Make Believe at Idlewild Park. But that’s another story.)
The standard joke, then, for this golf-inspired beverage is to say: “What do you call an Arnold Palmer with alcohol? A John Daly!”
But I’m going to take the refreshing drink in a different direction for this summer cocktail, creating The Pimm’s Palmer by mixing it with another of my warm-weather favorites: the Pimm’s Cup.
As any cocktail buff will tell you, Pimm’s is a series of British liqueurs that originated in the 19th century, each made with a spirit base—No. 1 with gin, No. 2 with Scotch, No. 3 with brandy, and so on—and infused with fruits and herbs.
The original Pimm’s recipe (No. 1) is the one you’ll find at your local liquor store, as the rest have fallen to history, but it’s really the only one you’ll need for your summer drink mixin’ fun.
A traditional Pimm’s No. 1 Cup combines the spirit with lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up (which the Brits call “lemonade”) and garnishes the drink with slices of cucumber, orange, and strawberry, along with fresh mint.
I’m taking liberties and combining Pimm’s with freshly brewed iced tea and a homemade blend of cucumber-infused lemonade for a subtle savory undercurrent.
The Pimm’s Palmer is a drink equally suited to a porch with a view of rolling verdant hills and forests, an urban roofdeck, or the 19th hole of the country club (AKA the bar just off the course).
The closest I get to a golf course any given summer is the few rounds I play at Pirate’s Cove, and I can’t even master those courses and become the Arnold Palmer of the mini set.
But I keep thinking that if I drink another Pimm’s Palmer, my skills will improve. Maybe I should just stick to playing ARNIE.
- 1 small cucumber (about 1/2 pound, or 8 ounces / 227 grams)
- 1 small lemon (about 1/4 pound, or 4 ounces / 113 grams)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups unsweetened iced tea
- 1 cup Pimm's No. 1
- 1 1/2 cups plain or lemon-lime seltzer
- cucumber slices
- lemon slices
- mint sprigs
- Roughly chop the cucumber and lemon into 2-inch cubes. No need to peel or zest, just chunk up the whole fruits and add them to a blender or food processor.
- Add the sugar and water and blend/process until pureed.
- Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to extract the juice from the pulp, stirring to get every last drop of juice out of the mixture. You should have about 1 1/2 cups cucumber lemonade when you're done.
- Pour the cucumber lemonade into a 3-quart pitcher, then pour in the iced tea and Pimm's.
- At this point, you can refrigerate the drink up to a day in advance.
- Just before serving, pour in the seltzer and divide between 6 glasses.
- Garnish with cucumber slices, lemon slices, and/or mint sprigs as desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 8mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.