Have a Drink: Long Island Iced Tea

Tea

An enjoyable cocktail for the weekend – the classic Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea | Relampago’s Rating: Star16Star16Star16Star16Star16

This classic cocktail is available in virtually every bar and restaurant with a bar there is. The Long Island Iced Tea actually has no tea in it at all, but it approximates the look and flavor of tea (with a kick) using a milieu of liquors, lemon juice, and Coca-Cola. It’s a good starter and mixes well with a lot of foods, particularly beef and steak. It has a higher alcohol concentration (around 20-25%) than most cocktails because, obviously, it has 5 different types of liquor in it.

Of course, with a drink that is so popular and so-well known, several men claim to be inventors of it. The exact timeframe for invention of the Long Island Iced Tea ranges over 50 years, with some sources claiming it was invented in the 1920s and others saying it was invented in the 1970s. There’s no denying it is a 20th century concoction.

There is some dispute as to the origin of the Long Island Iced Tea. However, numerous sources attribute the origin to one or both of two inventors in the 1920s or 1970s. The Long Island Iced Tea appears in literature as early as 1961. Alternatively, a slightly different drink is claimed to have been invented in the 1920s during Prohibition in the United States, by an “Old Man Bishop” in a local community named Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee. The drink was then perfected by Ransom Bishop, Old Man Bishop’s son. This drink included whiskey and maple syrup, and varied quantities of the five liquors, rather than the modern one with cola and five equal portions of the five liquors. Robert “Rosebud” Butt claims to have invented the drink as an entry in a contest to create a new mixed drink including Triple Sec, in 1972 while he worked at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York. Various local New York references echo Butt’s claims. Local rumors also ascribe the origin to either Butt or another bartender at the Oak Beach Inn, Chris Bendicksen.

Here’s a great recipe for a Long Island Iced Tea.

  • 2 lemon wedges
  • 1/2 cup Coca-Cola
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ounce white tequila
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
  • ice cubes

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the liquors, and lemon juice into the shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour the cocktail into 2 glasses, then mix in the Coca-Cola. Garnish with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

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One comment

  • Regarded by many bartenders as the low point in cocktail history, but on the bright side, may have inspired the resurrection of the industry by being so bad. If you want good info on cocktails, I recommend “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff, “The Modern Mixologist” by Tony Abou-Ganim, or any book by Gary “Gaz” Regan (cocktails and spirits). These three men are probably the best thing to happen to bartending since 05 DEC 33. Honorable mention goes to Jon Taffer, Francesco LaFranconi, Bobby G., Steve Olson, and anyone helping to “raise the bar”.

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