Long Island Iced Tea 4.28.18

-Branden Kummer

Our previous libation, the Old Fashioned, is a drink steeped in tradition, with a touch of elegance. This one can be summed up as “all the alcohol, in the glass. Now.” The Long Island Iced Tea is a cocktail consisting of five different liquors and serves no other purpose than to get the consumer drunk as quickly as possible. A popular choice of the artist/musician/college student set, the LIIT has three origin stories that have survived to today. The first dates back to the prohibition era. The story goes that a man named Old Man Bishop. I am not making that up, that’s the name history remembers him as. The Long Island in the cocktail refers to the Long Island in Kingsport Tennessee as opposed to the one you might expect. It is from here Bishop threw together a drink with vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, maple syrup and rum.

Another story brings us to a contest in 1972 for which Robert Butt, a bartender from Long Island New York, claimed to have created the famous concoction. The last known story states that it was an original drink of TGI Fridays.

  • ½ oz gin

  • ½ oz vodka

  • ½ oz Triple Sec

  • ½ oz white rum

  • ½ oz tequila

  • ½ oz sweet and sour mix

  • ½  cola (for color)

Mix and stir in a highball glass.

It goes without saying, but be particularly careful with this one. Especially if you go above the ½ oz mark for each ingredient. 1 oz of each brings the ABV of the Long Island to 21%. These things are infamous for their ability to screw you up.

If you can afford all the materials, you might consider making this at home. If nothing else, you do get to play around with some of its slightly different sisters.

The Long Beach Iced Tea, a variation that doesn’t appear to have much history but has become well known nonetheless, switches the cola with cranberry juice, Texas Tea adds bourbon (and yes, it does keep everything else.) I can’t find the exact history to many of these variations, they seem to have just quietly spread through the country as unique touches to a classic recipe.


Jill Kummer