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This post was originally published on April 6, 2018.
Do you enjoy drinking an Arnold Palmer on a hot day? Southern-style sweet tea along with tart homemade lemonade will get you the best results for a perfect Arnold Palmer.
It’s a fun beverage to serve kids of all ages when you are entertaining or just relaxing at home. Our recipe is made from scratch and is so refreshing.
Who invented the Arnold Palmer?
According to the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, his wife Winnie frequently served freshly brewed sweet tea for lunch in the 1950’s.
As the story goes, one afternoon on their patio he told his wife he wanted to try his drink a different way for lunch. He poured Winnie’s freshly brewed tea into a tall glass filled with ice about 3/4 the way full then he topped it off with lemonade and gave it a stir.
He loved how it tasted, and began taking it in a Thermos for when he played golf. He found it so refreshing.
How did the Arnold Palmer drink get its name?
Apparently, Arnold Palmer would ask bartenders across the U.S. to mix up this drink at the club house on golf courses and in restaurants by describing how to mix it.
One day in Palm Springs, California during the late 1960’s, he was overheard by a lady and she told the bartender she wanted an Arnold Palmer drink too. Since that day, the popularity of the drink caught on like wildfire.
- Freshly brewed black tea
- Lemon wedges or slices for garnish
- Mint leaves for garnish (optional)
- Ice cubes to fill the glass
What kind of tea is used in an Arnold Palmer?
The most popular is a neutrally flavored black tea. Remember, if you do choose to use a different one, like Earl Grey, it will alter the overall taste of the drink since this drink is mostly tea.
The brand I like to use is Lipton with the family size bags. It is made with Orange Pekoe and Pekoe cut black tea and is specially blended for this type of recipe.
I’ve heard other people make this drink with English and Irish Breakfast. It really boils down to personal preference and what you have access to at your grocery store.
Does this drink have caffeine?
In most cases, it would have caffeine because it’s made from black tea. The brand I like to use, Lipton, has 45 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz serving. If you’re trying to stay away from caffeine or you’re serving this to children at suppertime, it would be best to use a decaf black instead.
What is the correct ratio for making this drink?
Arnold Palmer made the drink with a 75% tea, 25% lemonade ratio. In the original version, the dominant taste is the tea with a hint of lemon. The beauty of this drink is you can set out two pitchers: one with tea and the other with lemonade and your guests can mix their own ratio according to their personal taste. I like to mix it 75-25% but add a lot of fresh lemon slices.
Why is this drink also called a half and half?
It is also called a half and half because of the ratio of freshly brewed tea to lemonade. In this case 50% tea to 50% lemonade.
Does this drink have alcohol?
No, an Arnold Palmer is alcohol free. It’s a refreshing drink that’s perfect to serve any time of the day to young children and adults alike.
Is this beverage bad for you?
According to our nutrition facts in the recipe card, a 15.5 ounce glass would have 51.8g carbs, 50.4g of sugar, and 12% Vitamin C. Want to lower the carb and sugar content? Check out the variations of the recipe below.
Disclaimer: we’re using a 15.5 ounce glass to create room for ice. There’s really only 12 ounces of liquid in the glass.
Nutrition Facts per 12 fl oz Serving
- 2 Cups of Sugar: 200 calories, 50.4g sugar, 51.8g carbs
- 1 Cup of Sugar: 122 calories, 30.4g sugar, 31.8g carbs
- Unsweet Tea: 45 calories, 10.4g sugar, 11.8g carbs
Is this drink considered an energy drink?
Accordingly to the legendary golfer, Arnie, it was. He drank it all the time, storing it in a Thermos to keep it cold while he played golf in the hot sun.
What kind of glasses are used to serve this beverage?
Traditionally, a 12-16 ounce Collins glass or a 8-12 ounce highball glass is used. I used a Collins glass for the pictures in this post. If you don’t own the right glassware, any tall glass would do; just don’t serve it in a plastic cup.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients to make the homemade lemonade. It only takes three: filtered water, granulated sugar, and fresh lemons.
Start by making the simple syrup. It’s a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour the simple syrup into a shallow container so it can cool faster.
Squeeze the lemons with a wooden reamer.
Strain the freshly squeezed lemon juice through a sieve to catch the seeds.
Pour the water into a glass carafe or pitcher, then pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and the cooled simple syrup.
Stir until well mixed using a wooden spoon.
Next, gather all the ingredients for the sweet tea: sugar, filtered water, and 3 family-size black bags.
Pour the filtered water into an electric kettle and bring the water to a boil. The kettle in the picture is made by Hamilton Beach and we have loved using it for years.
Secure the bags by clipping them to the edge of the pitcher with clothespins.
Pour the boiling water over the bags and let it steep for 5 minutes.
Remove the bags and add the 2 cups of sugar. We’ve found if you are drinking it right away, you’ll need to use 2 cups for the correct level of sweetness.
If you are making this to use later, use only 1 cup. If you want to make unsweet instead, omit the sugar in this step.
Stir the sugar into the boiling hot tea with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is dissolved. Now you have it freshly brewed.
You can use it hot, poured over ice, which is the way to use it in coastal Georgia, or allow it to cool.
To make an Arnold Palmer, get a tall glass, like a Collin’s glass. Fill it halfway with ice, then add three to four lemon slices cut in half.
Pour in the sweet tea until it’s 3/4 full, roughly 8 ounces of liquid.
Top off the drink with the homemade lemonade, about 4 ounces of liquid. You’ll notice the lemonade will float on top of the sweet tea.
Using a long handled spoon, stir gently to mix it.
Garnish the Arnold Palmer with a lemon slice and a mint sprig. Add a paper straw and enjoy!
Make up a pitcher full and enjoy the tangy lemon flavor. This beverage is so addicting!
- Want a variation of the simple syrup? Add lemon peel, simmer for 1-2 minutes, then steep for 30-60 minutes.
- Need a new method? Try cold brew or sun brewed tea.
- Want a variation to your lemonade? Use lemon rind simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, but no water.
- Want a lemonade twist? Try homemade peach, blueberry, mango, or mint lemonade.
- Want your hot brewed tea with a twist? Add lemon zest to your pitcher, pour mixture through strainer and discard the zest and bags.
- Don’t have clothespins handy? Tie the bags to the handle of the pitcher.
- Garnish ideas? Try a lemon wedge or slice, mint spring, or a colorful paper straw.
- Need a pitcher full? Brew the tea first then add the lemonade and the lemon slices. Keep the ratio 75% tea, 25% lemonade.
- Lemon slices floating in the pitcher will make the drink more lemony.
- Entertaining? Set out two pitchers: one of tea and the other of lemonade. Set out your garnishes and let your guests mix their own.
- Bamboo Citrus Reamer: this handy tool makes it easy to squeeze juice from citrus.
- Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle: this electric kettle boils water super fast!
- 2-Cup Measuring Cup: this sturdy measuring cup is great for pouring too.
- Set of 3 Mesh Strainers: these sieves are practical for sieving liquids and draining solids.
- Lipton Family-Sized Tea Bags: this is our favorite brand for making this drink.
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An Arnold Palmer drink is easy, refreshing, and non alcoholic. Southern style freshly brewed sweet tea topped with homemade tart lemonade is the best way to enjoy this summer classic. It’s great for entertaining! Make it fun and picture perfect by adding lemon slices and a cute paper straw.
For the Lemonade
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (from 5 lemons)
- 3 cups cold water
For the Sweet Tea
- 3 family-size black tea bags
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
For Garnishing Each Glass
- 3 lemon slices, cut in half
- 8 ice cubes
- 1–2 mint leaves
- 1–2 straws
Making the Lemonade
- Stir together 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, pour into a shallow container, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Halve and juice 5 lemons, then pour the juice through a sieve to catch any seeds.
- Pour the cooled syrup into a large jug. Add the lemon juice and 3 cups of cold water. Stir until well mixed.
Making the Sweet Tea
- Boil the water in a kettle.
- Secure the strings of the three bags to the edge of a large pitcher with a clothespin for easy removal.
- Pour the boiling water over the bags and let them steep for 5-8 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.
- Remove bags and discard. Stir 2 cups of sugar into the hot tea if you’re using it right away; use 1 cup if you’re refrigerating it later. Skip the sugar altogether if you want unsweet.
Making the Arnold Palmer
- Fill an 16-ounce highball glass almost halfway with ice (roughly 8 large ice cubes).
- Rinse and thinly slice a lemon, then cut each slice in half. Remove any seeds. Put 4 lemon slices in the glass.
- Pour in the hot sweet tea until the glass is 3/4 full (about 8 ounces), then pour the lemonade on top (about 4 ounces).
- Stir gently with a long-handled spoon, then garnish with a half of a lemon slice on the rim. Add a mint leaf and one or two paper straws. Serve immediately.
- If you don’t have clothespins handy, you can tie the tea bags to the handle of the pitcher.
- A lemon wedge or slice, mint spring, or a colorful paper straw are some other garnish ideas.
- If you want to big batch this. Brew the tea first then add the lemonade and the lemon slices to a pitcher. Keep the ratio 75% tea, 25% lemonade.
- Want this more lemony? Float lemon slices floating in the pitcher.
- Serving a large crowd? Set out two pitchers: one of tea and the other of lemonade then set out your garnishes. Let your guests mix their own drinks.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Boiled
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: iced tea, sweet tea, lemonade