Classic Long Island Iced Tea

By: Pratishruti Ganguly

Classic Long Island Iced Tea

Cocktails often derive their names from the locations where they were initially crafted. Take the Manhattan, for instance, christened after its birthplace, the Manhattan Club in New York. Similarly, the Irish coffee finds its origin in an Irish airport restaurant, while the Long Island Iced Tea is credited to its inception in Long Island, New York.

The quintessential Long Island Iced Tea, contrary to its name, however, doesn't incorporate any actual iced tea. In its classic rendition, this cocktail comprises a medley of five distinct types of alcohol: gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and triple sec. Additionally, a dash of lemon juice and cola is added to the mix. Distinguishing itself from typical highball drinks, the Long Island Iced Tea boasts a significantly elevated alcohol concentration. This potency is attributed to the relatively scant amount of mixer incorporated into the concoction.

In the annals of cocktail history, Robert Butt, a bartender at Long Island's Oak Beach Inn, is credited with birthing the Long Island Iced Tea. He asserts that his libation secured his entry into a 1972 mixology showdown where bartenders vied to fashion innovative drinks with triple sec. Butt's creation blended tequila, vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, and a dash of coke, boasting a formidable 22 percent alcohol concentration. 

While the competition's outcome and even its existence remain uncertain, Butt's concoction reportedly captivated the public. However, an alternative narrative suggests an entirely different geographical origin for the drink.

According to Butt's assertion, the Long Island Iced Tea is a mere fifty years old, positioning it as a relative newcomer in the realm of cocktails. However, the city of Kingsport in Tennessee vehemently disagrees. Amy McColl, the Marketing Manager for Kingsport, claimed that the iconic drink has been part of Tennessee's landscape since 1920.

Tennessee's version of events places the drink's inception on Long Island, not in New York but an island in Kingsport. During the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, Charlie "Old Man" Bishop, an illicit alcohol producer, is credited with crafting a variant of the beverage sans triple sec or coke. His concoction featured rum, vodka, tequila, gin, whiskey, and maple syrup. The discreet name of the spiked iced tea may have served a purpose during a time when the production and sale of alcohol were prohibited. The drink's potent alcohol content might also be attributed to the scarcity of alcohol during the Prohibition Era, where each sip of the formidable concoction held significant value.

In modern times, Long Island Iced Tea has acquired unfavourable associations among cocktail afficionados. A crowd favourite among college and university students, the drink is often dubbed by purists as an “act of mixological atrocity” that is only enjoyed by college goers or wastrels.  
 

Ingredients

  • Vodka - 15ml
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  • White rum - 15ml
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  • Gin - 15ml
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  • Tequila - 15ml
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  • Orange liqueur - 15ml
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  • Lime - 20ml
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  • Simple syrup - 20ml
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  • Coke - to top up
  • ingredients-7

Method

Add the vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup and lemon juice to a Collins glass filled with ice.

Top with a splash of the cola and stir briefly.

Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Classic Long Island Iced Tea

Mixologist: Pratishruti Ganguly

Ingredients

Method

Add the vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup and lemon juice to a Collins glass filled with ice.

Top with a splash of the cola and stir briefly.

Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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Classic Long Island Iced Tea