Long Island Iced Tea


Published:  02/21/24

long island iced tea
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The Long Island Iced Tea presents a complex amalgamation of flavors and spirits, juxtaposed against its misleading nomenclature. This beverage, a quintessential example of American cocktail culture, contains vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and cola, creating a unique taste profile that belies its tea-reminiscent appearance. The absence of actual iced tea in its composition, yet the attainment of a similar amber hue, underscores the ingenuity inherent in its creation.

The Long Island Iced Tea is distinguished by its potent combination of five distinct spirits: vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, and gin. These ingredients are meticulously measured to ensure a balanced flavor profile, which is then enhanced by the addition of cola, serving both as a mixer and colorant, imparting the characteristic amber hue reminiscent of iced tea. The inclusion of lemon juice adds a necessary acidity, balancing the sweetness of the cola and the potency of the spirits. This cocktail is typically served in a Collins or highball glass, garnished with a slice of lemon, offering a visually appealing and refreshingly complex beverage.

Historical Origins

The genesis of the Long Island Iced Tea is a subject of considerable debate within mixological circles, presenting a fascinating dichotomy of stories that vie for historical authenticity. On one hand, the narrative posits Robert “Rosebud” Butt as the progenitor of this iconic cocktail, asserting that in 1972, within the vibrant ambiance of the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York, Butt crafted this innovative beverage as a submission to a contest aimed at creating a novel mixed drink that featured triple sec as a key ingredient. This event is said to have catapulted the Long Island Iced Tea into the annals of cocktail history, securing Butt’s legacy within the pantheon of mixology.

Contrastingly, an alternative account transports us further back to the clandestine era of Prohibition in the United States during the 1920s, introducing Charles Bishop, affectionately known as “Old Man Bishop”, from a local community named Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee, as the creator behind this cocktail. His original mixture diverged markedly from today’s recipe, featuring whiskey, maple syrup, and a disparate assortment of five liquors, eschewing triple sec altogether. The narrative evolves with Ransom Bishop, Charles Bishop’s son, who is reputed to have refined his father’s recipe by incorporating cola, lemon, and lime, thus edging closer to the composition of the contemporary Long Island Iced Tea.

These contrasting origin stories not only highlight the rich tapestry of American cocktail culture but also underscore the fluid nature of cocktail evolution, where recipes adapt and transform across generations and geographies.

Cultural Significance and Popularity

The Long Island Iced Tea’s ascent to popularity during the mid-1970s to 1980s underscores its enduring appeal and versatility. Its ability to encapsulate the essence of multiple spirits within a singular beverage, while maintaining a palatable and refreshing taste, has solidified its status as a beloved choice among patrons and mixologists alike. The drink’s deceptive potency, masked by its sweet and citrusy undertones, renders it a staple in social gatherings and nightlife, embodying the spirit of American cocktail culture.

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

  1. 15 ml vodka

  2. 15 ml gin

  3. 15 ml white rum

  4. 15 ml tequila

  5. 15 ml triple sec

  6. 22.5 ml simple syrup

  7. 22.5 ml fresh lemon juice

  8. 60 ml cola, to top

  9. Ice

  10. Garnish: lemon wedge

long island iced tea cocktail

How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea

  1. Add the vodka, gin, white rum, and tequila into a Collins glass.

  2. Add ice and stir briefly to combine.

  3. Top off with cola.

  4. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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