Tipsy Palmer: The Ultimate Summer Cocktail


Also pairs well with Mason jars [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

My first job in high school was working the counter at a slice joint in the suburbs of Chicago. I made minimum wage, but much to my adolescent delight, part of my daily allowance included two free pieces of pizza and a soda. I've never been much of a soda fan, so I instead I guzzled canned Arnold Palmers—a 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade, named for the legendary golf master.

As I got older, my palate matured (slightly), and I started drinking bourbon. On the rocks is my go-to in colder months, but during summer barbecue season, when everyone else is nursing an icy beer (which, like soda, I rarely drink), I feel out of place with a glass of straight hard spirit. I wanted something light and refreshing to use as a mixer, with a little sweetness to match the easy summer vibes. The answer was simple: an Arnold Palmer.

Spiked with bourbon, the Arnold Palmer becomes a Tipsy Palmer, my favorite summer cocktail. It works just as well for one as it does for a crowd, functioning as a sort of low-labor punch alternative. The sweet, citrusy tea-lemonade combo mellows the alcoholic flavor in bourbon, making a smooth-drinking cocktail that'll convert even those who claim not to like the brown stuff.

If I'm entertaining, I'll make a big batch with fresh-squeezed lemonade and bracing black tea, but I've also picked up many a bottle of pre-made lemonade and iced tea (usually black, sometimes black and green) on my way to other parties. Garnished with a fresh lemon wedge and served in a Collins glass on ice, the Tipsy Palmer tastes to me like endless summer.