Continuing with the golf week theme, I thought it only appropriate that we share THE golf drink/cocktail of all time: The Arnold Palmer – also known as a John Daly (when mixed with alcohol) or Half & Half (mainly southern). Whatever you call it, it’s simply a mixture of iced tea and lemonade – sometimes spiked with vodka or bourbon. In this case, I thought it only fitting that I use muddled lemons with simple syrup and a southern staple, sweet tea vodka, from Firefly Distillery made on Wadmalaw Island in the lowcountry – just a stone’s throw away from Kiawah Island.
I believe it was the summer after my sophomore year in college at the College of Charleston when I began a job at Kiawah Island as a beverage cart attendant (glorified name of a cart girl). My family and I had been going to Kiawah since I was 9 or 10 because we had relatives that built a home out there, so I was familiar with the area.
I worked on Cougar Point and sometimes the Ocean Course; twisting and winding through the cart paths hoping to stumble upon a thirsty golfer who needed something to combat the humid summer. It was a fun, summer job, but it was hard work and long hours. We’d get there by 7am (it was an hour away from my house downtown) and wouldn’t leave until 7pm. We’d have to stock the cart ourselves with ice, booze, and sandwiches (that we’d made ourselves that morning) and snacks.
It was my first (and only) foray into bartending, but I’m glad I was able to do it. After I got the hang of it, I knew what the golfers liked (Michelob Ultra & sea-breezes, no joke) and what they didn’t (Budweiser & peanut butter crackers) and was able to stock my cart accordingly, to make the most out of the mobile bar/snack shop. I must have mixed hundreds upon hundreds of drinks, and even though I had some practice during my freshman year in college, nothing was quite like mixing drinks on the course before the golfer took his next shot.
I made quite a few Arnold Palmers for golfers on the course, but no one ever asked me to add booze to theirs. It wasn’t until Firefly was introduced in Charleston (a few years later) that I saw the spiked versions of Arnold Palmers floating around. If you can’t find sweet tea vodka (many brands have popped up recently, so look around), feel free to brew your own tea and mix a little with regular vodka, it should work in a pinch.
Arnold Palmer Cocktail
1 1/2 oz sweet tea vodka
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2-1 whole lemon
In a collins glass, fill with the sweet tea vodka and crushed ice. Add the simple syrup. Squeeze the juice out of the lemon and cut into quarters (about 2-4 big chunks should do) and put into the glass. Fill with water and mix well. Add more lemon if you like it more tart. Serve while still chilled.
Alternatively, you can make the lemonade from this post and do half sweet tea vodka/half lemonade. Either way is delicious!