The original Long Island Iced Tea recipe is delicious, and has been around for ages! It’s also quite simple to make—even if you’re a cocktail-making novice—and takes only three minutes to come together. You can also drink one in that time, but we suggest you (and your friends) take it slowly. These tequila summer cocktails are potent, so stick to the measurements. For a lighter version, you can also take the amount of liquor down a notch to ½ oz of each and add more cola.
The One and Only Long Island Iced Tea Recipe
PREP TIME 5 min
Many Long Island Iced Tea recipes call for sour mix. Don’t do it! Use fresh lemon juice instead.
Build the Long Island Ice Tea straight in the glass and stir. No cocktail shaker required!
For a slightly lighter version of this Long Island, use half an ounce of each spirit instead.
Big party planned? Turn this cocktail into a pitcher to please the crowd!
Build the ingredients in a Collins glass filled with ice
Top it off with cola and stir
Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve with a straw
What is in a Long Island Iced Tea?
If you’re hoping to taste iced tea in this drink, you’re going to be disappointed! Long Island Iced Tea ingredients list a staggering amount of liquor. There is no iced tea in sight! Instead, it contains:
- Vodka. SKYY Vodka makes for a nice, well-balanced base on which to build this multi-faceted drink.
- White Rum. We love using Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum because it has a nice caramel note on the finish.
- Tequila. An un-aged tequila like Espolòn Tequila Blanco works really well in a Long Island Iced Tea.
- Gin. A nice London Dry Gin like Bulldog Gin adds some fresh herbaceous notes to the drinks symphony.
- Grand Marnier. A well-heeled orange liqueur like Grand Marnier is always good for a little bit of zesty heft.
- Cola. You’ve got to have a bit of effervescence in the mix to tie the whole thing together, but there’s no need to be too choosy here. Your go-to cola will suffice.
While the idea of all these spirits served in one glass isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, you might be surprised to learn how easy and refreshing it is to drink considering how much liquor goes into one. It’s a scientific wonder. A dangerously delicious one.
A brief history of the Long Island Iced Tea cocktail
There are a few stories out there about where the first Long Island Iced Tea recipe originated. We’ll tell you about two.
One legend dates back to the 1920s and an era of prohibition where alcohol was banned and drinks needed to be strong. A man named Charles ‘Old Man Bishop’ a bootlegger from Kingsport, Tennessee made a drink with tequila, vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and maple syrup. His creation was called Old Man Bishop. The story continues that his son, Ransom Bishop, refined this drink to the version we know today.
Another famous story is that the Long Island Iced Tea recipe was invented by bartender Bob ‘Rosebud’ Butt back in 1972 during a cocktail competition at Oak Beach Inn, a nightclub in Long Island, New York. The cocktail had to include Triple Sec as a hero ingredient to qualify for the competition, and Butt claims that his creation was an instant hit. By the 1980s, it was famous worldwide. There’s even a video of Bob Butt (released in 2013) demonstrating how to make his famous cocktail. It’s totally Google-worthy, so go check it out.
We love both stories, but it leaves us with one burning question: Will the real Long Island Iced Tea please stand up?
Why is Long Island Iced Tea so popular?
Cocktail trends come and go, but the Long Island Iced Tea recipe has endured the test of time. In fact, it’s been a big part of American drink culture for decades. It’s a sneaky drink that is strong and tasty.
Regardless of its high sugar and alcohol content, there is no doubt that the LIIT is totally lit, and chances are good that you will find it on the cocktail menu of just about every bar you go to—no matter where in the world you find yourself. You’ve got to love it for what it is. A fun and easy-to-drink cocktail that packs a real punch.
Tips for making a batch of Long Island Iced Tea ahead of time
The Long Island Iced Tea is best enjoyed as a party drink, which means you’ve got to make a batch to share with your friends. To pull this off, you will need a large pitcher, half a cup of each liquor, ¾ cup of both lemon juice and simple syrup, and one and a half cups of cola, with lemon slices to garnish.
Mix it together, add ice to tall glasses, and pour in the drink. Simple enough to make ahead of time for any party, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about when your guests arrive is who gets to control the music playlist!
When to serve a Long Island Iced Tea
This hefty drink is a wonderful addition to no-holds-barred celebrations and ocean-side shindigs. We also love serving it at:
- Bachelor parties (crowd-pleaser of note)
- Island-style parties (the right kinda vibe)
- BBQs (so refreshing!)