John Daly Drink: Recipes and Why the Cocktail Is Named for the Golfer

John Daly with drink in hand during a pro golf tournament
The glass in John Daly's hand, in this case, contains Diet Coke. The drink named after the golfer is a bit stronger. Stuart Franklin/Getty Image

What is the John Daly drink? It's a cocktail that, in its basic form, combines tea, lemonade and vodka. You can think of it as an Arnold Palmer drink to which alcohol—usually, but not exclusively, vodka—has been added.

The Basic John Daly Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 ounces vodka
  • 1 part lemonade
  • 1 part iced tea

Directions: Add a few ice cubes to a tall glass. Fill halfway with iced tea, the rest with lemonade. Add the vodka. Stir. Garnish, if desired, with a lemon wedge or orange peel.

That's it, your basic John Daly cocktail.

Origins of the John Daly Drink

This beverage existed long before the golfer John Daly became famous. It goes back to the "Arnold Palmer drink," a mix of lemonade and ice tea that originated in golf clubhouse bars and dining rooms frequented by Palmer, who loved the mixture and frequently requested it.

As the Arnold Palmer grew in popularity, first among golfers and then among the general public, some people started experimenting with adding alcohol to it. These alcoholic versions were usually referred to as "adult Arnold Palmers."

Daly arrived on the golf scene with a splash, coming from seemingly nowhere to win the 1991 PGA Championship. With his booming drives, mullet haircut and aw-shucks manner, Daly immediately became a folk hero for the weekend golfer.

Alas, his career soon ran into problems with on- and off-course issues. Some of those issues arose out off Daly's love (in those days) of drink. And not just the Diet Cokes that he later chugged with abandon, but the alcoholic variety.

Although we don't know with certainty when and where the John Daly drink was first called that, it was probably around the early to mid-1990s, when Daly first started publicly having alcohol-related problems.

So, unfortunately, we have to say that the drink was named for him not so much as an homage, but more as a joke. We can imagine a group of golfers in a clubhouse bar. One of them ordered an Arnold Palmer and asked the bartender to add a shot of vodka. "Oh, what do you call that?" he might have been asked. "A John Daly," came the reply, with chuckles all around.

The John Daly monicker became more known and more common, and eventually replaced "adult Arnold Palmer" as the name of this particular cocktail.

What Does Daly Think of the Name?

We don't know what Daly's private reaction was the first time he heard about the "John Daly drink." But we do know what his public reaction was as that name started showing up on menus.

The term "John Daly drink" or "John Daly cocktail" started popping up on bar and restaurant menus as the 21st century dawned and became popular enough that by 2010 Daly himself started seeing it on menus, and hearing about it from others.

His reaction? Golf Digest wrote about how Daly tweeted (in 2010) that using his name in that way was a trademark infringement, and asked fans to alert him anytime they saw "John Daly drink" on a menu.

But in 2011, Daly decided he could cash in on the cocktail's name and growing popularity. That year, along with two partners, Daly formed a limited liability corporation called GIASI Beverage Company. In 2012, that company began marketing, under the name "Original John Daly Cocktail," several vodka cocktails. The first three the company made were the Original Sweet Tea & Lemonade with Vodka, Peach Tea & Lemonade with Vodka, and Raspberry Tea & Lemonade with Vodka.

More John Daly Drink Recipes

There are numerous variations on the basic John Daly Drink recipe that appears above. In fact, you can add any liquor you like to the half tea-half lemonade mix and call it a John Daly.

Not that big a fan of vodka? Maybe you'd prefer the bourbon Daly:

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  •  2 ounces lemonade
  •  2 ounces iced tea

Another variation adds an orange-flavored liqueur—triple sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, etc.—along with the vodka:

  • 1.25 ounces vodka
  • 0.25 ounces orange-flavored liqueur
  • Equal parts lemonade and iced tea

You can also achieve the orange flavoring by using a splash of orange juice rather than an orange liqueur.

To make it even more citrusy, stick with an orange liqueur but also go with a lemon-flavored vodka:

  • 1.25 ounces lemon-infused vodka
  • 0.25 ounces triple sec
  • Fill remainder of glass half with lemonade and half with iced tea.

Another way to mix up the John Daly drink, if you prefer a very sweet variety, is to use sweet tea rather than plain iced tea.

And along the same lines, you can simplify it to just two ingredients this way:

  • 1 part sweet tea-flavored vodka
  • 1 part lemonade