What Is The Best Ratio For An Arnold Palmer Drink?

In the 1960s, Arnold Palmer wasn't just a champion golfer. He was also a celebrity, with a legion of fans enormous enough to be referred to as Arnie's Army. So when Palmer came up with a new drink, his loyal fans drank it, too.

Palmer's beverage was a mix of iced tea and lemonade, which he and his wife created in a collaborative effort. Decades later, the Arnold Palmer remains both tasty and refreshing, but also a bit controversial. After all, not everyone agrees on the proper blending ratio. When Golf.com taste tested three dozen combinations to determine which was best, a two-to-one ratio in favor of tea was declared the optimal mixture. Others, meanwhile, have advocated for a half-and-half marriage of ingredients. When Palmer's company, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, later signed an agreement with AriZona Beverages to produce and distribute a canned version of the drink, that's the ratio that was used.

This equal parts iced tea and lemonade formulation was likely prepared with the customers in mind. Even though he agreed to market and support the product, Palmer's preferred proportion was always a bit different. "Iced tea has the dominant side," he once noted in Today. "That dominates the drink and if it doesn't, it isn't really right."

Arnold Palmer's preferred ratio

The Arnold Palmer is now so ubiquitous it's one of a select group of food words that have been added to the dictionary. Thus, it has become far too popular to suppose that just because its creator had a favored ratio, that's the way it should always be made. But Palmer did have strong views about the ideal makeup of what has become one of America's favorite mocktails and mixers.

In Palmer's opinion, the lemonade should account for no more than 25% to 33% of the drink's total volume, with store-bought or homemade iced tea providing the majority of the flavor. Typically, he favored the same two-to-one iced tea to lemonade commingling that Golf.com found best following its extensive taste test. That's how Palmer liked to order it, too, although he was often too modest to call it by his name when doing so.

The celebrated sportsman also founded a boozy version of the drink known as a Spiked Arnold Palmer, with Ketel One vodka as the liquor of choice. However, the vodka-laced version is more commonly known by another name, one also inspired by a champion golfer.

The best ratio for the John Daly

It only seemed appropriate that when the cocktail version of the Arnold Palmer was invented, it too would be named after a major championship-winning golfer, albeit one with more of a reputation for revelry than the since-deceased Palmer. The John Daly was born at a golf tournament in 2005. John Daly recipes typically call for an ounce-and-a-half pour of vodka, plus equal parts (two ounces each) of iced tea and lemonade.

However, just as Palmer joined forces with AriZona Beverages to make a canned version of his namesake beverage (and with MillerCoors, too, on a spiked variation), Daly, too, has partnered with a company to release a commercial version of the cocktail that bears his name. Actually, he's done it a few times. The former Open and PGA Championship winner started his own GIASI Beverages company in 2010 to sell the cocktail and has since collaborated with Phusion Projects and Good Boy Vodka on hard iced tea and lemonade products. The latter launched a canned, ready-to-drink John Daly Cocktail in 2023.

As a result of Daly's influence, one of America's favorite mocktails has also become one of our classic cocktails. Whether you prefer your Arnold Palmer with or without vodka, if you're making it at home, the ratio of iced tea to lemonade is ultimately up to you and your flavor preferences — but a two-to-one or one-to-one ratio will always be a safe bet.