Traditional Arnold Palmer*

Sweet tea is a Southern staple.  It will be found at any wedding, party, or restaurant you walk in to.  Long debates have been held on many of front porches who sells the best version, or whose Mom makes the best recipe.

Being a Southern transplant myself, sweet tea seemed like an acquired taste.  It took me a while to warm up to.  But add a little alcohol, and mix in some good lemonade, and I was sold.  This Arnold Palmer cocktail was my gateway drink into full-fledged sweet tea addiction.

Why ‘Arnold Palmer’?

Arnold Palmer was a professional golfer.  One of the greatest of all time.  The story has it that his wife used to make big batches of iced tea for him to drink after work, and that one day he said they should mix in some lemonade and see how it went.  He loved it.  He started bringing a thermos of the mix with him to the course, and then one day at the 1960 US Open ordered a “tea and lemonade” when a woman nearby heard him and yelled out, “I’ll have that Palmer drink!”  The rest is history.

Now, when you add alcohol into the mix, the drink can also be known as a Jon Daly.  He was also a professional golfer who enjoyed this drink, if mixed with vodka.  You will hear both, and can use whichever name you prefer.

arnold palmer cocktail

How it’s Made

This drink is ridiculously simple.  Thanks to the invention of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, it only requires three ingredients.  This recipe is great for a big batch drink when you’re throwing a party, or you can make it one glass at a time.  All you need is a packet of Crystal Light Lemonade, a bottle of water, and the Firefly.

You will see in my recipe I use less water than Crystal Light calls for.  This is because I think it dilutes the lemonade flavor a little too much if you use their suggested amount, and then doesn’t taste quite right with the vodka.  Using less water makes the lemonade taste stronger and works as a better mixer when combining with the Firefly.

Why it’s So Great

First of all, this drink is amazing because it tastes delicious, but that isn’t even the best part.  This cocktail contains almost a whole bottle of water, so you are combating the looming effects of a hangover from dehydration… at least a little… even if it is only a placebo effect.  Also, the Crystal Light mixer is only 10 calories and has no sugar.  This is a win because mixers are what really add up in our alcoholic beverages.  If you are going to drink alcohol, you will be getting empty calories.  But you don’t need to exacerbate the problem by using high-calorie and high-sugar mixers.

Lastly, the Firefly.  This helps with the mixer issue mentioned above because it eliminates having to use sweet-tea as another mixer and then adding vodka.  Sweet tea is made with so much sugar (you should look at some recipes out there, it is ridiculous) so using Firefly enables you to get the sweet-tea taste and alcohol all in one.  The best part – they even make a low-sugar version of the liquor.  You may not be able to find this in all liquor stores, but if you do I would snatch it, I think it tastes the same as the original and eliminating any amount of sugar helps!

Arnold Palmer Cocktail


  • 1 packet of Crystal Light Lemonade
  • 1 (16.9 oz) bottle of water
  • 3 oz Firefly (about two shots)


  1. Empty lemonade packet into a glass.
  2. Pour about 1/2 – 3/4 of the bottle of water into the glass. (Taste as you go – stop once mixture is just a bit stronger tasting than you would drink your lemonade).
  3. Pour in vodka.
  4. Add some ice, and enjoy.


If you enjoy this drink and like frozen cocktails, you will fall head over heels for my Frozen Arnold Palmer .  It is so easy to take this recipe and switch it to the frozen version.  It uses the same ingredients, just a couple of extra steps!  Check it out and let me know what you think.


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