The Long Island Iced Tea is famous not only for the punch it packs, but also for the headache it’ll so graciously provide you with on the next morning. Known as one of the booziest and most iconic cocktails — coming in at a whopping 22 percent ABV — the Long Island Iced Tea combines five different spirits in a symphony of flavors. Equal amounts of vodka, rum tequila, gin, and triple sec are joined by simple syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of cola to create a unique beverage that belies its strength.
- ¾ ounce vodka
- ¾ ounce rum
- ¾ ounce tequila
- ¾ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce triple sec
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- Garnish: lemon wedge.
- Combine all ingredients in a tall glass with ice.
- Briefly stir to combine.
- Top with a splash of cola.
- Garnish with a lemon wedge.
The History of the Long Island Iced Tea.
When it comes to tracing the history of the infamous cocktail, piecing together its past proves to be just as difficult as piecing together memories of your night if you indulge in more than just one.
The first variation of what we now know as the Long Island Iced Tea cropped up in the 1920s, when the United States was deep in the prohibition era. At the time, many resourceful Americans at the time tried their hands at crafting their own cocktails, and Old Man Bishop from the Long Island community in Kingsport, Tennessee was no exception. It was at this time he skillfully combined tequila, vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and maple syrup, calling his concoction the Old Man Bishop. It is said that upon his death, Old Man Bishop passed the recipe down to his son, Ransom, who transformed the concoction into what we now recognize today.
While it’s difficult to corroborate this tale, the drink’s outward appearance passes for just a regular old iced tea, which made it easy to enjoy outside the privacy of one’s own home during an era when alcohol consumption was highly illegal. Moreover, as drinks were highly restricted at the time, the 22 percent ABV of what we now know as a Long Island would certainly keep the party going, even if the number of drinks was restricted to one.
The Long Island Iced Tea also appeared in two publications from the 1960s – “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook”, published in 1961, and Virginia Habeeb’s 1963, “American Home All-Purpose Cookbook.”
If you ask former Long Island bartender Robert “Rosebud” Butt of the Oak Beach Inn, however, he’ll claim that he is the one true inventor of the Long Island Iced Tea we all know and (hate to) love. Butt is the only source of this story and says he invented the drink as his entry into a triple sec cocktail-making contest in 1972. He even mentions Old Man Bishop on his own website, but dismisses the origin story as a “myth.” It’s worth noting that he never mentions the 1960s cookbooks.
Whether you choose to believe Old Man Bishop, Robert Butt, or Betty Crocker, the infamous Long Island Iced Tea is here to stay. Read on to learn how to make your very own.