How to Make the Perfect Arnold Palmer

Some people in the south call it swamp water. Some people call it half and half but its true name is Arnold Palmer and it’s the greatest drink ever bestowed upon man by the god Dionysus.

In its simplest terms it’s part iced tea and part lemonade.

It starts with your iced tea.

Okay, so although I said I would tell you how to make a perfect iced tea, the reality is some of this will depend on your setup and how you like it. But “how to…” titles get more clicks. So you’ve been duped. Deal with it. 

How to make Iced Tea

I’m a tea whore. Which, depending on how you quantify whoring, means I drink a lot of iced tea. On average it’s about 2 liters a day. I don’t know the conversion formula of iced tea to whoring, so not sure what that comes out to but it’s probably at least 6 johns.

Because I’m such an iced tea whore, I have an iced tea maker. It makes a fresh iced tea in five minutes with minimal effort on my part. If you like iced tea but don’t have an iced tea maker, you should get one. But be warned, they’re hideous and your wife will hate their ubiquitous presence on the counter. And if you love it as much as I love mine, when it starts to leak and you refuse to get rid of it, your wife may also give you a dirty look if the constant puddle of water under your iced tea maker stains your new granite countertop.

I’m not saying this has happened with my wife, I’m just saying it may happen with yours.

I own the Hamilton Bay Iced Tea Maker. It’s great. It’s slim. It’s fast and it brews a good two liters of tea. Mine is a workhorse. It’s tea stained. The plastic pitcher is cracked at the top. The bottom of the machine is also cracked somewhere, so there is a small leak at the bottom.

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It works just well enough that I can’t stand to part with it.

The bad news is they no longer make it. But if you act fast you can find it on eBay for $75.

Let’s get back on track.

The perfect ratio for my iced tea maker, yours will vary based on your iced tea maker or brewing process, but it’s essentially the same thing. 4 bags of tea brewed in one liter of water. If you brew tea over the stove or even out in the sun, that’s the ratio: 4 teas per 1 liter of water.

Some recommend as many as 10 tea bags per liter of water, but that’s if you like it really strong. I’m a wuss and I drink it a little weak. Steep it for 3-5 minutes if you’re doing it on the stove. With an iced tea maker it will manage the timing itself.

So now you have your steeped tea, you’ll want to add it to your ice. The ice will melt and double your tea quantity. I use another liter of ice placed in my pitcher and as the tea brews, it drips inside and melts the ice. If you are making tea on the stove, you’ll just put the ice in the pitcher and pour your brewed tea over it. (Be sure you do this in a plastic picture or super thick glass pitcher because the sudden shift from hot to cold might break some pitchers.)

For the tea itself, I use Lipton Black Tea. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I’ll replace one of the black tea bags with an Earl Grey or a mint tea bag. It gives the tea and in turn the Arnold Palmer, another layer of flavor.

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Southerners, just remember not to sweeten the tea. The lemonade is going to be your sweetener.

How to Make Lemonade

The saddest thing in the world, okay not the world, but a pretty sad thing is how impressed people can be with fresh lemonade. People buy it pre-bottled or from concentrate in the store and that just blows my mind. One of the most delicious and easiest things to make is fresh lemonade. I make it so often that it takes me about 5 minutes and that includes the time it takes to clean the juicer.

Next time you’re at the store and you’re thinking about buying lemonade, just stop, buy some lemons, go home and make this.

Lemonade can be very preferential as well. But I think my ratios are perfect. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 5.5 cups of water
  • 2/3 cups of sugar (substitute brown sugar for a deeper flavor)

Take 1 cup of water and pour it into a sauce pan. Add the sugar and melt it down on the stove to make a simple syrup.

Pour the lemon juice into a pitcher and add the remaining 4.5 cups of water.  A couple notes about juicing. Before you juice the lemons, roll them around on the counter, putting just a little pressure to help break the juices up a bit. I also don’t strain out the pulp in my lemonade. But you can if you want, I’ll allow it.

Once the simple syrup is done, pour it into the pitcher and stir.

Boom, you got lemonade.

How to Make An Arnold Palmer

You have iced tea in one pitcher. You have lemonade in the other. Now we combine them. Perfecting your Arnold Palmer ratio takes years. Some just straight up do half and half and to those people I say, “Go to hell.”

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It’s not that simple.

You might reply, “That’s how I like it.”

Fine, whatever. Enjoy your Arnold Palmer then. Keep reading if you want to know how it should be done.

  1. If you’ve chilled your iced tea enough, then fill your glass 2/3 with ice.
  2. Pour your iced tea to the 70% mark. Your glass has percentage marks right? Just eyeball. Go for 7/10 to 3/4 of the glass.
  3. Top it off with lemonade. This is important. Don’t start with the lemonade. Some people start with lemonade because the lemonade is heavier. So it stays at the bottom and makes your glass look cool because you can see the separation. Then you have to stir it. It does look cool but we’re not trying to look cool, we’re trying to taste cool. Because the lemonade is heavier, if you pour it last it will mix itself in with the tea.
  4. Drink that shit.

And that’s how it’s done.

Arnold Ps, as my wife likes to call them, are best on hot days, cold days, sad days and happy days. They are not good on busy days when you have a lot of errands because they make me pee a lot.

The perfect #arnoldpalmer ratio.

A video posted by Ryan Riley (@we_have_beards) on


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