Ultimate Guide: Perfect Long Island Iced Tea Recipe Revealed

Must Try

Introduction to Long Island Iced Tea

The Long Island Iced Tea is a cocktail that stands out due to its potent mix of spirits and refreshing taste, resembling an iced tea despite containing no actual tea. Its complex blend of flavors makes it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts. But how did this concoction come to be, and why has it remained popular over the years? Let’s delve into the origins and sustained allure of the Long Island Iced Tea.

Origin of Long Island Iced Tea

The story of the Long Island Iced Tea’s creation is as mixed as the drink itself. Some attribute its invention to a bartender named Robert “Rosebud” Butt in the 1970s during a contest to create a new mixed drink. Butt, working at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York, claims to have combined five different spirits with a splash of cola to mimic the appearance of iced tea, hence the name.

Others trace its roots back to the Prohibition era in the 1920s, where a man named “Old Man Bishop” on Long Island, Tennessee, allegedly concocted a similar drink to disguise alcohol as iced tea. Despite these competing narratives, one thing is clear: the Long Island Iced Tea has a storied past that reflects its unique character.

Popularity Over the Decades

From its disputed origins, the Long Island Iced Tea swiftly rose in popularity. In the 1980s and 1990s, it became a staple of bar menus worldwide, known for its strong punch and deceptively smooth taste. Its ability to blend in with a casual setting while packing a significant alcoholic content made it a favorite for social gatherings and night outs. Today, it continues to be a go-to drink for many looking for a robust yet refreshing cocktail.

The Perfect Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

Long Island Iced Tea
Long Island Iced Tea


Creating the perfect Long Island Iced Tea requires precision and quality ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

Step-by-Step Preparation

  1. Combine Non-Alcoholic Spirits and Juice: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour 1/2 ounce each of non-alcoholic gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec substitutes, and 1/2 ounce white grape juice.
  2. Add Sour Mix: Add the sour mix to the shaker. This balances the potent mix of spirits with a touch of tartness.
  3. Shake Well: Shake the ingredients vigorously for about 10-15 seconds to ensure they are well-mixed and chilled.
  4. Strain and Serve: Strain the mixture into a highball glass filled with ice.
  5. Finish with Cola: Add a splash of cola on top to give the drink its signature iced tea color.
  6. Garnish: Garnish with a lemon wedge to enhance the presentation and add a subtle citrus aroma.

Tips for Perfect Mixing

Achieving the perfect Long Island Iced Tea isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s also about the technique. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Quality Spirits: Use good quality non-alcoholic substitutes to ensure a smoother taste.
  • Chill Your Glass: Chill your glass beforehand to keep the drink colder for longer.
  • Measure Accurately: Precision in measurement helps maintain the intended balance of flavors.
  • Shake, Don’t Stir: Shaking ensures that all ingredients are properly mixed and chilled.

Variations of Long Island Iced Tea

Texas Tea

For those who enjoy a stronger drink, Texas Tea is a popular variation. It includes the same base spirits as the Long Island Iced Tea but adds a bit more whiskey for an extra kick.

Electric Long Island Iced Tea

This variation swaps out the cola for an energy drink, giving it a bright color and an extra boost. It’s a favorite for those looking to add a bit of excitement to their drink.

Hawaiian Iced Tea

For a tropical twist, Hawaiian Iced Tea replaces the cola with pineapple juice. This version is fruitier and perfect for summer parties.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

Selecting Quality Liquors

The quality of your Long Island Iced Tea depends heavily on the quality of the spirits you use. Opt for mid-range liquors that provide a good balance of flavor without breaking the bank. Premium spirits can be used for a more refined taste, but avoid the cheapest options as they can make the drink harsh.

Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic version, there are several ways to create a mocktail that mimics the taste of a Long Island Iced Tea. Use a combination of iced tea, lemon juice, and a splash of cola for a refreshing and alcohol-free alternative.

Garnishing Your Long Island Iced Tea

Classic Garnishes

The traditional garnish for a Long Island Iced Tea is a lemon wedge. This not only adds visual appeal but also provides a subtle citrus note that complements the drink’s flavor profile.

Creative Garnish Ideas

For a more creative touch, consider adding mint leaves, a slice of lime, or even a maraschino cherry. These additions can enhance both the look and taste of your cocktail.

Long Island Iced Tea in Popular Culture

Iconic Appearances in Movies and TV

The Long Island Iced Tea has made numerous appearances in movies and television shows, often portrayed as a go-to drink for characters looking to unwind. Its presence in pop culture has cemented its reputation as a fun and potent cocktail.

References in Music and Literature

Beyond the screen, the Long Island Iced Tea has also been mentioned in various songs and books, symbolizing everything from youthful exuberance to a carefree lifestyle. These references further embed the cocktail into the cultural lexicon.

Hosting a Long Island Iced Tea Party

Themed Party Ideas

Hosting a Long Island Iced Tea party can be a great way to bring friends together. Consider a beach or summer theme to match the refreshing nature of the drink. Decorate with beach balls, palm trees, and serve tropical snacks.

Pairing Snacks and Appetizers

Pair your Long Island Iced Tea with light appetizers that won’t overpower the drink. Options like shrimp cocktail, bruschetta, and cheese platters are ideal. The goal is to complement the cocktail without overshadowing its complex flavors.

The History Behind Long Island Iced Tea

The Prohibition Era

The early 20th century was a tumultuous time for cocktails, with the Prohibition era forcing bartenders to become creative in disguising alcohol. The Long Island Iced Tea, with its innocent appearance, could easily pass as a non-alcoholic drink, making it a clever ruse for those looking to skirt the law.

The 1970s Resurgence

The 1970s brought a resurgence in cocktail culture, with the Long Island Iced Tea making a notable comeback. Its appeal lay in its bold mix of spirits, which catered to the era’s penchant for strong, flavorful drinks.

Health Considerations of Long Island Iced Tea

Caloric Content

A standard Long Island Iced Tea can be quite calorie-dense due to the combination of multiple spirits and the addition of sour mix and cola. On average, one drink can contain anywhere from 250 to 300 calories. For those mindful of their intake, consider using diet cola and a lower-calorie sour mix.

Responsible Drinking Tips

Given its high alcohol content, it’s important to enjoy Long Island Iced Tea responsibly. Pace yourself, alternate with water, and always have a plan for getting home safely if you’re out. Moderation is key to enjoying this potent cocktail without overindulging.

Comparing Long Island Iced Tea to Other Cocktails

Differences from Other Iced Teas

Unlike its namesake, the Long Island Iced Tea contains no actual tea. This distinguishes it from other iced tea-based cocktails, which typically incorporate brewed tea as a base ingredient.

How it Stands Out

The Long Island Iced Tea stands out due to its unique blend of five different spirits, which is uncommon in most cocktails. This combination creates a depth of flavor and a robust alcoholic punch that is hard to match.

Long Island Iced Tea and Regional Variations

East Coast vs. West Coast

On the East Coast, the traditional recipe is most popular, while the West Coast often sees variations that include additional ingredients like peach schnapps or different types of soda.

International Takes

Globally, bartenders have put their own spin on the Long Island Iced Tea. In Europe, for instance, it’s not uncommon to find versions with added fruit juices, creating a slightly different flavor profile that still honors the original.

The Art of Mixing Cocktails

Tools for the Perfect Mix

To create a great Long Island Iced Tea, you’ll need a few essential tools: a cocktail shaker, jigger, strainer, and a highball glass. These tools ensure that your ingredients are mixed thoroughly and served at the right temperature.

Techniques and Skills

Mastering the Long Island Iced Tea involves more than just mixing ingredients. It requires an understanding of balance, temperature, and presentation. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your technique.

Serving Long Island Iced Tea in Different Glasses

Highball vs. Hurricane Glasses

Traditionally, a Long Island Iced Tea is served in a highball glass. However, for a more tropical presentation, a hurricane glass can also be used. Each glass type offers a different visual appeal and experience.

Presentation Tips

Enhance the visual appeal of your Long Island Iced Tea by adding layers of garnish and serving it in a chilled glass. Presentation is key in making your cocktail not only taste good but also look inviting.

FAQs About Long Island Iced Tea

What alcohol is in a Long Island Iced Tea?

A Long Island Iced Tea typically contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec.

Does Long Island Iced Tea have tea in it?

Due to the combination of multiple spirits, a Long Island Iced Tea is considered a very strong cocktail.

Can you make a non-alcoholic Long Island Iced Tea?

Yes, by using iced tea, lemon juice, and cola, you can create a non-alcoholic version that mimics the flavor.

What is the best garnish for a Long Island Iced Tea?

A lemon wedge is the classic garnish, but you can also use mint leaves or a slice of lime for added flavor.

How many calories are in a Long Island Iced Tea?

A typical Long Island Iced Tea can contain between 250 and 300 calories.


The Long Island Iced Tea is more than just a cocktail; it’s a cultural icon with a rich history and a dynamic flavor profile. From its disputed origins to its enduring popularity, this drink has captivated the hearts and taste buds of many. Whether you’re mixing one up at home or enjoying it at a bar, the Long Island Iced Tea promises a complex, refreshing experience that is sure to impress.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Recipes

- Advertisement -

More Recipes Like This

- Advertisement -
Don’t Miss Out! Enter Our Month Giveaway for a Chance to Win a Blender!
This is default text for notification bar
Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.