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How To Long Island Iced Tea

The Story Behind The Long Island Iced Tea

The PERFECT Long Island Iced Tea – Absolut Drinks with Rico

According to legend, the Long Island Iced Tea was originally named the Old Man Bishop after a gentleman who created the drink during Prohibition its sweetness making it difficult for teetotalers to identify it as alcoholic. But history always has multiple perspectives bartender Robert Butt claims that it was he who invented the drink in 1972 while participating in a cocktail contest at the Oak Beach Inn in Long Island, N.Y.

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.

A Few Substitute Ideas

What if you dont have the entire laundry list of liquors on hand, but still want to make an LIIT? Here are a few ideas for some substitutions:

  • Vodka, tequila, or gin: Leave one of these out and double one of the other liquors. For example, if you dont have gin double the tequila. But try to have at least 3 of the 4 main liquors.
  • White rum: Use another type of rum if you dont have white on hand. Aged adds a sophistication to the flavor. Or again, you can leave it out and double one of the other liquors.
  • Cointreau: Want a Cointreau substitute? Use Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Orange Curacao.

How To Make A Great Long Island Iced Tea

I mentioned this often already, but I can’t emphasize it enough. The key to making great cocktails is using great products. That means no sweet and sour mix from the supermarket. Also, no cheap liquor, and making sure to use a quality Triple Sec.

Using fresh citrus will create a zesty, tangy, and crisper drink without the additional sweetening. A kick this cocktail needs in order to balance the alcohol. And again, using high-quality liquor will make this drink a lot better. One of the biggest problems of overly sweet LIT’s is the lack of quality ingredients. And what makes things worse: to cover up the harsh notes of cheap alcohol, people use more sugar and citrus.

And for the Triple Sec, I also recommend using a decent quality. My choice is Cointreau, an ingredient I use in many recipes, and my first choice of Triple Sec. If you keep these recommendations in mind, your Long Island Iced Tea will be as good as never before.

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How Strong Is Long Island Iced Tea

The five liquors make Long Island iced tea seem like a strong drink, but if you do the math, it’s not terribly potent compared to other cocktails. When you pour 80-proof liquors, 60-proof triple sec, and top it with 2 ounces of soda, its alcohol content falls in the 16 percent ABV range. That is about the same as a strong rum and Coke and half the strength of a gin martini.

What Are The Best Spirits For A Long Island Iced Tea

How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail
  • Quality value Tequilas like Espoln Tequila Blanco and El Jimador Silver are great options.
  • Bacardi White Rum or Captain Morgan are excellent choices. Theyre good rums that arent too expensive.
  • A good vodka, such as Titos Handmade Vodka or New Amsterdam Vodka, is all that is required for a Long Island Iced Tea.
  • Long Island Iced Tea pairs well with classics like Beefeater or Tanqueray, as well as New Amsterdam Gin.
  • Although Cointreau is a well-known brand of triple Sec, feel free to use one that is less expensive, such as DeKuyper. Even though Grand Marnier is a combination of cognac and triple Sec rather than straight triple sec, its a good substitute if thats all you have.

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Long Island Iced Tea Ingredients

The Long Island Iced Tea is a highball cocktail made with 5 liquors: vodka, tequila, rum, gin and orange liqueur. When mixed together with cola the drink has a brown color, just like iced tea . The modern version of this cocktail was most likely invented in 1972 by a bartender in Long Island, New York: hence the name.

The LIIT took off and became so popular that it made the list of the International Bartender Associations IBA official cocktails! This means that it has an official definition. Whats in a Long Island Iced Tea?

  • Vodka
  • Lemon juice
  • Cola

Yes, thats a lot of ingredients. Lets talk through why this makes the best Long Island Iced Tea recipe, and then whether there are substitutes!

The Dangerously Delicious Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail

  • Notorious, yet not as dangerous as it seems

  • Easy cocktail to make at home or in the bar

  • 3 surprising recipe variations

The Long Island Iced Tea. A notorious cocktail that has endured the passage of time. Dangerous due to its mixture of many different spirits and best enjoyed when served ice cold. But if you use the right balance, your Long Island Iced Tea is not that risky as it seems. And its actually a rather easy cocktail to make. Let us guide you on how to s properly prepare a Long Island Iced Tea cocktail that can be enjoyed without any harm.

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The Real Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

Its hard to know where and when the Long Island Iced Tea, perhaps one of the most infamous cocktails in modern times, was truly invented.

The city of Kingsport, Tennessee has claimed it as their own, with tourism officials stating it was created by moonshine distiller Charlie Old Man Bishop during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, and named after a nearby island in the Holston River. This original version was said to include modern staples like vodka, gin, rum and tequila but with the addition whiskey and maple syrup.

However, in an escalation of local tourism board public relations wars, New Yorks Long Island disputed this account, claiming the drink was created much later in the 1970s by Robert Rosebud Butt, then a bartender at Jones Beachs now-defunct Oak Beach Inn. That version hews closer to the Long Island Iced Tea made worldwide today, including triple sec and cola while omitting brown spirits.

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Long Island Iced Tea Recipe


1/2 oz vodka 1/2 oz gin 1/2 oz tequila 1/2 oz light rum 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice1/2 oz triple sec 3/4 oz simple syrup3/4 oz fresh lemon juice3 oz Coca-Cola Lemon wedge for garnish, if desired


Fill the shaker about half to 3/4 full with ice. Small piece or cubes of ice work best. Mix together the vodka, gin, tequila, rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Do NOT add the Coca-Cola! Pour the mixture into the shaker put on the top, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins or Highball glass or other tall glass filled with ice, and top with the Coke until full. Stir gently and garnish the rim of the glass with the lemon wedge.

After making your first Long Island Iced Tea, you can experiment to get the recipe just right for you. Some people like to use a mixture of juices like lemon, lime, and orange. Some people like to add a bit more vodka to give it more punch. Make it the way you like the best!

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Whats In A Long Island Iced Tea

A Long Island Iced Tea consists of vodka, gin, tequila, white rum, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup and cola. Though the number of liquors in this cocktail can seem staggering, one of the reasons for its enduring popularity is that its fairly uncomplicated to make. As an old bartender shorthand goes, just use all your clear base spirits plus triple sec, add in lemon juice and simple syrup, then top with cola.

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What Does Long Island Iced Tea Taste Like

Summertime is an ideal time to serve the Long Island Iced Tea, because its taste is reminiscent of iced tea even though there’s no tea in it at all. The Long Island Iced Tea features cola, all the white liquors, Triple Sec and lemon juice. It mostly tastes like a cola with orange and lemon juice added.

About The Long Island Iced Tea

How to Make a Real Long Island Iced Tea

Although many may associate this cocktail with the 1990s and the “throw it all in a glass” attitude, the Long Island iced tea stormed the cocktail scene in the 1970s. Some accounts claim that it started to circulate during Prohibition, but there’s little proof to back this up. The most accepted theory is that it did originate on Long Island at a bar.

The Long Island iced tea is one bold drink. The ingredient list can make your head spin just reading it over, but for some unknown reason, similar to sleight of hand magic, the Long Island iced tea comes together with a little bit of lemon juice and that splash of cola. It’s better not to question some things in life.

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Raspberry Long Island Iced Tea

For something that cuts away at the strong Long Island Iced Tea, try adding raspberry liqueur.


  • Raspberries for garnish


  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, raspberry liqueur, vodka, rum, tequila, and gin. Add ice and shake for about ten to fifteen seconds.
  • Strain the contents into a highball glass filled with ice.
  • Top with cola and garnish with a few raspberries.
  • How To Make Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail

    An easy-to-follow recipe for Long Island Iced Tea for that refreshing drink at the end of the week with a kick! Nothing beats a classic cocktail recipe that would certainly on anyones favorites list. A balanced drink with a blend of spirits, orange liqueur and sweet and sour mix then rounded off with the classic Coca-cola.

    10 mins

    • lemon wedges,or lime


  • Fill a cocktail shaker with roughly cup of ice, then pour all your alcohol, juice, and syrup. Shake thoroughly to combine.

  • Fill up your chilled glass with roughly cup of ice.

  • Line a strainer and pour it into your prepared glass.

  • With the remaining space of the glass, add roughly 3 shots of cola.

  • Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy! You can stir the drink before serving so that the color will resemble a regular iced tea.

  • Nutrition

    HomeCoffee Blog

    Who would have imagined that wed still be ordering and drinking a 80-year-old cocktail with such a wacky recipe? The Long Island Iced Tea is legendary. I mean, I dont know any other cocktail calling for vodka, tequila, white rum, gin and orange liqueur!The Long Island Iced Tea as we know it was created in the 1940s and gained immense popularity during the 70s. After that, it kind of faded away to allow more modern libations to shine. Today, the Long Island Iced Tea is back, and its best version is blue.

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    Flavors In A Long Island Iced Tea

    When you take away all the alcohol from a Long Island iced tea, there isnt too much left. We try to make our mocktail drink recipes as close to the flavor of the original cocktail as possible. Crafting a Long Island iced tea without liquor was a tricky one!

    The main flavor of a Long Island iced tea is citrus and orange thanks to the triple sec. We used fresh lemon juice and orange juice to give our mocktail that signature citrus taste.

    While Long Island iced tea cocktails do not technically have any real tea, we wanted to make our mocktail with actual tea. English breakfast tea has a great neutral taste that we love. The subtle earthy flavor goes well with the citrus in the drink. It also makes this tea a real tea!

    Ginger beer gives our Long Island iced tea mocktail a nice spicy kick. This zesty flavor is similar to the one that a massive blend of liquor would give the drink. Of course, ginger beer gives that spice without any alcohol. Apple cider vinegar also gives a tasty spice to the mocktail. We like the vinegar taste because it makes the mocktail taste very close to the original, powerful cocktail. Still way more delicious, though!

    Does It Contain Loads Of Alcohol

    How to Make the Perfect Long Island Iced Tea

    Before we get to the recipe, lets dispense a little smear that has long been attached to this popular happy hour drink: It has tons of alcohol and will knock you on your derriere. A well-made Long Island Iced Tea has 2 1/2 ounces of alcohol in it from liquors and triple sec. Thats pretty much the same as many other cocktails. The problem is that many inexperienced bartenders put a full ounce of each of the spirits in a glass and just top it with a little cola, ending up with 5 ounces of liquor in a nasty drink. The other thing, and you will see this in many recipes on the web, is the use of sour mix. You dont need it. Stick with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup so you can control the balance.

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    How To Make Long Island Iced Tea

    • Fill a large bowl with ice. Add the tequila, rum, vodka, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup and stir until the mixture is well-chilled.
    • Strain the mixture into a pitcher and add the cola just before serving.
    • Stir to combine.
    • Add ice into highball glasses. Garnish with lime wedges and enjoy!

    Long Island Iced Teas You Should Know How To Make

    Ahhhh, the Long Island Iced Tea.

    As long as people have enjoyed vomiting in the bushes outside their neighborhood watering hole, theyve enjoyed sucking down Long Island Iced Teas.

    Just ordering a Long Island sort of defines your night right from the start and makes a declaration to everyone around you: Im going to go from zero to humiliating just as quickly as I can.

    Now, if you think people get excited by the Long Island, wait until you offer them a spin-off of the original and watch them jump around like a chimpanzee who got stung by a bee. Ive been serving these variations for years, and if you want to be loved as a bartender, learn to diversify your Long Islands and watch them clutch at their drink excitedly like a child clutches an Otter Pop on a hot summer day.

    If youre not a bartender yet, and you want to learn how, you can check out TheRealBarCourse here, even if you have no experience or have no idea where to start.

    But enough of that. What kind of teacher would I be if I didnt educate you on the beginnings of the Long Island and where it came from?


    As with practically every cocktail with some time under its belt, the Long Island comes with debatable and uncertain beginnings. At first glance it appears as if it might have been inspired by the fruitcake: just throw anything you have in your cupboards into a container, mix it up and then ask yourself why in the hell you would ever ingest such a thing.

    Whats up with that, Bob?

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    Ingredients In Long Island Iced Tea

    When there are equal parts of five liquors in a cocktail, one liquor should not overpower any of the others. The goal is to achieve balance in the cocktaileven one that packs as much of a punch as the Long Island Iced Tea. To do that, you’ll need quality spirits, but not necessarily high-end spirits.

    Top shelf bottles, or small-batch artisanal spirits from the local distillery, can be used in this recipe, but their nuances will get lost in the mix. The LITas a bar server would call itis perfectly happy with the tried and true middle shelf brands of these spirits.

    • Tequila: Tequila Blanco is an unaged tequila that’s also known as silver or white tequila. Espolòn Tequila Blanco and El Jimador Silver Tequila are quality value rums that will work well in an LIT.
    • Rum: Captain Morgan White Rum or Bacardi White Rum work really well in a Long Island Iced Tea. They’re good rums that don’t break the bank.
    • Vodka: An LIT doesn’t need your favorite vodka, just a well-made vodka, like Tito’s Handmade Vodka or New Amsterdam Vodka.
    • Gin: Standards such as Beefeaters or Tangueray are perfect for Long Island Iced Tea, as is New Amsterdam Gin.
    • Triple Sec: Triple Sec is a sweet, orange flavored liqueur. Cointreau is one brand of well-known triple sec, but feel confident using one that has a lower price tag such as DeKuyper. If Grand Marnier is all you have in your liquor cabinet, it’s a fine alternative even though it’s a blend of cognac and triple sec, not straight triple sec.


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