Do you enjoy drinking an Arnold Palmer drink on a hot day? For a perfect Arnold Palmer drink recipe use Southern-style sweet tea along with tart homemade lemonade. It's a winner every time.
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 ¾ 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.
Our Arnold Palmer drink takes basic pantry ingredients that are easy to find at your local grocery store. Let's talk about the key ingredients.
- Lemons: We use freshly squeezed lemons with the seeds strained out.
- Sweetener: We use white granulated sugar, but you can use your sweetener of choice.
- Black Tea: We used Lipton's black tea made especially for sweet (iced) tea - in the family size bags.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- 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.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients to make our Arnold Palmer drink. Let's start with 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.
- Squeeze the lemons with a wooden reamer, then strain the freshly squeezed lemon juice through a sieve to catch the seeds.
3. Pour the water into a glass carafe or pitcher, then pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and the cooled simple syrup.
4. Stir until well mixed using a wooden spoon.
5. To make the homemade sweet tea, secure the tea bags by clipping them to the edge of the pitcher with clothespins. Pour boiling water over the bags and let it steep for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the bags and stir in 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, and if you want to make unsweet instead, omit the sugar in this step.)
7. To make an Arnold Palmer, fill a Collins glass halfway with ice, then add three to four lemon slices cut in half. Pour in the sweet tea until it's ¾ full (roughly 8 ounces).
8. Top off the drink with the homemade lemonade (about 4 ounces). You'll notice the lemonade will float on top of the sweet tea.
9. Stir the Arnold Palmer carefully to combine.
10. Garnish this Arnold Palmer drink with a lemon slice on the rim and a mint sprig. Add a paper straw and enjoy!
The most popular is a neutrally flavored black tea. The brand we 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.
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. We like to mix it 75-25% but also add a lot of fresh lemon slices.
In most cases, it would have caffeine because it's made from black tea. The brand we 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 small children at suppertime, it would be best to use a decaf black instead.
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.
- 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.
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Arnold Palmer Drink
For the Lemonade
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- ¾ 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
Prepping the Ingredients
- Stir together ½ cup water and ½ 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.
- Boil the water in a kettle. Secure the strings of the three black tea 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 to use unsweet tea.
Making the Drink
- 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 ¾ full (about 8 ounces), then pour the homemade 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 Arnold Palmer Drink, 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 in the pitcher of lemonade.
- 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.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.