The Perfect Arnold Palmer

James Norton / Heavy Table

This summer, it has slowly but inevitably dawned upon me that a scratch-made Arnold Palmer is the ultimate nonalcoholic summer beverage. It’s an ideal balance of sweet, tart, and astringent, and it has both depth of flavor and brute chugability. It brooks no challengers.

Chance circumstances resulted in the creation of the best-tasting Arnie Palmer I’ve ever slammed. While making a batch of the beverage for a grill-out, I used the fruit I had on hand: lemons, yes, but also a couple of ripe oranges. The mellow depth of the orange juice married perfectly with the earthiness of the black tea and bridged the ade and tea halves of the beverage creating the tastiest version of the drink I’ve had to date.

The recipe below will get you a good Arnold Palmer, but you may want to tinker with the proportion of tea to citrus-ade, and potentially add less sugar (this is a reasonably sweet recipe, and it could work with three-quarters or even half of the sugar, depending upon your tastes).

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton
Yield: 2 quarts

Juice from:
4 medium lemons
2 medium oranges

3 cups just-brewed black tea (I like Lipton loose-leaf Yellow Label tea, which you can find in most Indian markets)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

1. Combine the fruit juice, ½ cup of sugar, and the 4 cups of water in a pitcher or bowl. Mix well.

2. Pour the hot brewed tea into a second pitcher or bowl along with ½ cup of sugar. Mix well and give it 10-15 minutes to cool down.

3. Add the citrus-ade to a larger pitcher (8+ cup capacity), and add some or all of the tea mixture. Taste for sweetness and balance, adding more tea and/or sugar as needed.

4. Refrigerate and enjoy.

Variants: You can add a handful of cut strawberries (4 or 5) to this drink, and you’ll be staggered by how much flavor they impart after a day or two in the fridge. It’s a really nice variant.

Garden mint is another optional addition, probably no more than 2 teaspoons finely chopped.

James Norton / Heavy Table