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.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
person putting a lemon wedge on the rim of an Arnold Palmer drink

Arnold Palmer Drink

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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.

three glasses of Arnold Palmer with the pitcher

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 tea 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.

person pouring a glass of Arnold Palmer

What ingredients are in an Arnold Palmer?

  • Freshly brewed black tea
  • Lemonade
  • 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 tea, 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 tea bags.  It is made with Orange Pekoe and Pekoe cut black tea and is specially blended for iced tea.  I’ve heard other people make it with English and Irish Breakfast tea.  It really boils down to personal preference and what you have access to at your grocery store.

people doing a toast with two glasses of Arnold Palmer

Does an Arnold Palmer have caffeine?

In most cases, it would have caffeine because it’s made from black tea.  The brand of tea 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 tea instead.

What is the correct ratio for making an Arnold Palmer?

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.

person holding a glass of Arnold Palmer

Why is an Arnold Palmer 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 an Arnold Palmer 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.

holding a glass of Arnold Palmer

Is an Arnold Palmer 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

  • Sweet Tea with 2 Cups of Sugar: 200 calories, 50.4g sugar, 51.8g carbs
  • Sweet Tea with 1 Cup of Sugar: 122 calories, 30.4g sugar, 31.8g carbs
  • Unsweet Tea: 45 calories, 10.4g sugar, 11.8g carbs

Is an Arnold Palmer 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. 

pitcher of Arnold Palmer with two glasses

What kind of glasses are used to serve an Arnold Palmer?

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 an Arnold Palmer Drink

Gather the ingredients to make the homemade lemonade.  It only takes three: filtered water, granulated sugar, and fresh lemons.

jug of water, lemons, bowl of sugar, and bowl of water

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.

simple syrup in a small saucepan

Squeeze the lemons with a wooden reamer.

squeezing the juice from a lemon with a citrus reamer

Strain the freshly squeezed lemon juice through a sieve to catch the seeds.

straining the seeds out of the lemon juice

Pour the water into a glass carafe or pitcher, then pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and the cooled simple syrup.

pouring the simple syrup into the lemonade

Stir until well mixed using a wooden spoon.

stirring the lemonade with a wooden spoon

Next, gather all the ingredients for the sweet tea: sugar, filtered water, and 3 family-size black tea bags.

ingredients for making sweet tea

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.

pouring water into an electric kettle

Secure the tea bags by clipping them to the edge of the pitcher with clothespins.

clipping tea bags to a glass pitcher

Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and let it steep for 5 minutes.

Remove the tea bags and add the 2 cups of sugar.  We’ve found if you are drinking sweet tea right away, you’ll need to use 2 cups for the correct level of sweetness.  If you are making the tea to use later, use only 1 cup.  If you want to make unsweet tea instead, omit the sugar in this step.

pouring a bowl of sugar into a pitcher of brewed tea

Stir the sugar into the boiling hot tea with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is dissolved.  Now you have freshly brewed sweet tea.  You can use it hot, which is the way to use it in coastal Georgia, or allow it to cool.

stirring a pitcher of sweet tea

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.

putting lemon slices into a glass

Pour in the sweet tea until it’s 3/4 full, roughly 8 ounces of liquid.

pouring sweet tea into a glass to make an Arnold Palmer

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.

pouring lemonade into a glass to make an Arnold Palmer

Using a long handled spoon, stir gently to mix it.

stirring a glass of Arnold Palmer

Garnish the Arnold Palmer with a lemon slice and a mint sprig.  Add a paper straw and enjoy!

three glasses of Arnold Palmer with a bowl of lemon slices

Pro Tips for Making Arnold Palmer

  • Don’t have clothespins handy?  Tie the tea bags to the handle of the pitcher.
  • 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 to make tea?  Try cold brew or sun brewed tea.
  • Want a variation to your lemonade?  Use lemon rind simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, but no water.
  • Garnish ideas? Try a lemon wedge or slice, mint spring, or a colorful paper straw.
  • 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 tea bags.
  • 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.

Make up a pitcher full and enjoy the tangy lemon flavor.  This beverage is so addicting!

sieves, citrus reamer, measuring cup, tea bags, and electric kettle

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Arnold Palmer

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The pleasure of a 5-star review of this Arnold Palmer recipe would be greatly appreciated.

person putting a lemon wedge on the rim of an Arnold Palmer drink

Arnold Palmer Drink

  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x


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
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 12 straws


Making the Lemonade

  1. 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.
  2. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, pour into a shallow container, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Halve and juice 5 lemons, then pour the juice through a sieve to catch any seeds.
  4. 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

  1. Boil the water in a kettle.
  2. Secure the strings of the three tea bags to the edge of a large pitcher with a clothespin for easy removal.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and let them steep for 5-8 minutes, depending on how strong you like the tea.
  4. Remove tea bags and discard.  Stir 2 cups of sugar into the hot tea if you’re using the tea right away; use 1 cup if you’re refrigerating the tea to use later.  Skip the sugar altogether if you want unsweet tea.

Making the Arnold Palmer

  1. Fill an 16-ounce highball glass almost halfway with ice (roughly 8 large ice cubes).
  2. Rinse and thinly slice a lemon, then cut each slice in half.  Remove any seeds.  Put 4 lemon slices in the glass.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.


  • Traditionally, an Arnold Palmer is based on the ratio of 75% sweet tea, 25% lemonade, but over time it has evolved into a 50-50 ratio.  Use your own ratio to adjust it to your tastes.  Adding more lemon slices can also increase the lemon flavor.
  • If you are making a large pitcher, pour in the sweet tea, then the lemonade.  Stir, then add multiple lemon slices to make it look pretty and add more lemon flavor.
  • The longer the lemon slices sit in the pitcher, the more lemony it will taste.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: iced tea, sweet tea, lemonade

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2 thoughts on “Arnold Palmer Drink

  1. Arnold Palmers are a great 👍 way to cool off. I love the tang of the lemonade with the sweet tea.

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