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rye whiskey, social hour, tom macy, cocktail, classic cocktail

Bourbon-Spiked Arnold Palmer



  • 3 cups (about one 750ml bottle) tea-infused bourbon 

  • 1 cup lemon juice 

  • 1¼ cup simple syrup (or to taste)

  • 2 cups ice water


Combine in a pitcher, add about 2 cups of ice and stir. Or refrigerate before adding ice until ready to serve, ideally no more than 24 hours.  Garnish with lemon wheels and mint sprigs, if you like.  Pour into the serving vessel of your choosing - Mason jars are nice - over ice.



As most of you likely know, an Arnold Palmer is a mixture of lemonade and iced tea named for the golfing great who introduced it to the world.  It is one of the tastiest non-alcoholic drinks around (here’s a fun little short about its history from ESPN).  The only thing that could make it better, of course, is bourbon.  True, a spiked Arnold Palmer is technically called a John Daly - a golfer of the boozier sort - but I’m going for name recognition here (those are typically made with vodka anyway).   


My version doesn’t simply take an Arnold Palmer and add bourbon, rather it replaces the tea with tea-infused bourbon, which takes only 20 minutes to make.  It’s a real crowd-pleaser that’s easy to throw together, perfect for an outdoor summer gathering.  You can make it in a pitcher ahead of time and store it in the fridge until the guests arrive.  



If you make a Bourbon-Spiked Arnold Palmer,

let me see!  Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.



On Managing Dilution

This drink's proper dilution level lives on a sliding scale.  The recipe listed here is meant to be a large format drink, so it has a lot of dilution to make it on the lighter side (always a good idea for groups).  In fact, it could withstand an additional cup of water without doing any damage to the drink.  On the other side of that coin, if you want something closer to proper cocktail strength less water works too.  You could even omit it entirely and simply stir the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice for about 30 seconds (or shake it) - call that a Sweet Tea Sour.  I wouldn’t recommend that version for the masses though.


Lemon Shrub

If you’re willing to put in the extra effort this drink is to die for with lemon shrub, which is a mixture of oleo-saccharum (lemon peels macerated in sugar) and lemon juice.  It adds an irresistibly bright citrus flavor to the drink.  Substitute about 2 cups of it (which is about what the recipe below will yield) in place of the simple syrup and lemon juice portions, and add another cup of water to the recipe.


  • 12 lemons

  • 1½ cup lemon juice (made from the lemons)

  • 1½ cup sugar


  1. Peel the lemons, reserving the fruit, and combine the peels with the sugar in a closed container.  Make sure all the peels are coated or covered.

  2. Let sit, shaking occasionally, until the sugar is all or mostly dissolved into the extracted lemon oil, it will typically take 6-12 hours.  This is oleo-saccharum.

  3. Juice the peeled lemons until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice.

  4. Combine the juice and oleo-saccharum and stir until any remaining sugar is dissolved.

  5. Strain out the lemon peels, refrigerate. Will keep for about two weeks.


Tea-Infused Bourbon

Tea infuses quicker than just about any other ingredient because the flavors are so concentrated.  They also are the easiest to over-infuse.  So be sure not to infuse longer than 20 minutes, any more and the infusion becomes tannic, which can ruin the drink.


While this recipe calls for generic black tea, other teas can be used to impart a variety of flavors.  Mint or ginger teas are both excellent, as are fruit teas like peach (this one, in particular, is fantastic) or passion fruit.  You can combine teas too.  I’d generally stay away from any tea with darker flavors though, for this drink at least.



  • 5 bags or spoonfuls of black tea (Lipton or the like)

  • 1 750ml bottle of bourbon in the 80 to 90 proof range


Combine bourbon and teabags or loose tea and let sit for 20 minutes, tasting occasionally. Remove the bags or strain out the tea and refrigerate.  


Lemon Shrub
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