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Summer Cocktails: The Leland Palmer


I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

I’m taking a short vacation this weekend. And before you say something like, “You need a vacation from eating and sitting at a computer?” just know that I thought of it first and, well, valid point.

Regardless, I’ll be joining some old friends at a lake house for a few days of...more eating. But less computer sitting. We’ll also be drinking. Occasionally we’ll talk to each other and swim, but I’ll mostly be eating and drinking. Do what you love, amirite?

There’s just something about drinking near a body of water that feels right. Beers on the beach. Liquor by the lake. Tequila by the toilet. You get the drift.

While I’m chilling out max and relaxing all cool, my drink of choice will be the Leland Palmer. And, since we cannot all be drunk at the same lake house, I hope you find the time to get drunk in your own house while trying not to think about what I look like in a lake. (Boat cops keep mistaking me for a corpse, which is a bummer.)

Or, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, probably stop reading this and click here for something that’s just about food.

I learned about this magical concoction from Bon Appetit several years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. For ease of use, I’ve made a few minor changes, but if you click the link above you’ll see the original recipe.

Most of us probably know the Arnold Palmer as a cross between lemonade and iced tea, popularized by the golfer of the same name. Was Arnold anti-alcohol? I’ve never quite figured that out. However it came about, it’s an absolute delight.

But Leland Palmer, portrayed by Ray Wise, was less delightful. Fans of “Twin Peaks” might remember Palmer as the human possessed by Killer Bob. The man did a fair bit of drinking (and murdering his daughter and niece, SPOILERS!). So it’s pretty much just an alcoholic version of the Arnold Palmer, which is great for drinking when it’s hot.

Leland Palmer, made with Oxley gin, at Flint


½ cup honey

½ cup hot water

3 cups unsweetened iced tea (Red Diamond is a fine product)

¾ cup gin (sub in vodka if necessary)

¾ cup limoncello

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup grapefruit juice

1 cup cold club soda

Ice for serving


  1. Mix honey and hot water, stirring until the honey dissolves. Shove that in the fridge.
  2. Squeeze those lemons. Squeeze ‘em hard.
  3. Once the honey mixture is cold, mix it with the tea, gin, limoncello, lemon juice and grapefruit juice. Dump in the club soda and stir it up.
  4. Put some ice in a cup and pour the drink and why do I have to explain this to you? You’ve prepared a beverage before.

This recipe doubles and triples and quadruples well. Just make sure you’ve got enough pitchers to hold all of it. Everyone will drink it pretty quickly, because it’s delicious and refreshing and they didn’t have to make it. But you’ll drink plenty of their sangria, so let’s not start pointing red-stained fingers at each other.

The original recipe was created by Andrew Knowlton and Damon Boelte at Bon Appetit. I’d like to buy those guys a drink.

What are your favorite summer cocktails? Share your recipes (and the source, if possible) in the comments.

Big thanks to the bartenders at Flint for making a Leland Palmer for me using Oxley gin. Flint's patio is a perfect spot to enjoy one of these (and lots of other summery drinks) under an umbrella while getting gently misted. And thanks to Kristina Tanksley for helping make this happen.

About the Author

Founder and Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma, Greg Elwell has been reviewing restaurants and writing about Oklahoma’s food culture for more than a decade. Where a normal person orders one meal, this guy gets three. He is almost certainly going to die young and those who love him most are fairly ambivalent about it. You can email Greg at greg@iateoklahoma.com.