How To Make A Long Island Iced Tea

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.

Long Island Iced Tea Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce vodka
  • ¾ ounce rum
  • ¾ ounce tequila
  • ¾ ounce gin
  • ¾ ounce triple sec
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • Cola
  • Garnish: lemon wedge.

Long Island Iced Tea Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a tall glass with ice.
  2. Briefly stir to combine.
  3. Top with a splash of cola.
  4. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Rate This Recipe:

(315 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 288
Updated: 2023-03-14

Listen To Our Cocktail College Long Island Iced Tea Podcast 

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe Video

Long Island Iced Tea FAQ

How many shots of alcohol are in a Long Island Iced Tea?

Made with five different spirits, the Long Island Iced Tea contains 3.75 ounces of alcohol, which amounts to two and a half shots.

Why do bartenders hate making Long Island Iced Teas?

If there’s one thing any bartender hates, it’s dealing with customers who order complicated drinks at peak hours. Mixologist Elena Alvarez recalled in an interview with Business Insider that, “really difficult drinks with a lot of ingredients are always annoying to make when things are really busy.” Given the plethora of bottles necessary to make a proper Long Island, it’s a time consuming cocktail to prepare, hence the hassle for bartenders everywhere.

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.

Long Island Iced Tea Variations To Try:

  • The Blue Long Island Iced Tea - This lighter, fruitier version of a Long Island Iced Tea is an eye-catching adaptation of its notorious counterpart.
  • The Long Beach Iced Tea - Sister to the notorious party starter the Long Island Iced Tea, the Long Beach Iced Tea evokes that refreshing West Coast sunshine.
  • The Long Dryland Iced Tea - Congratulations, you made it through dry January! Treat yourself to the biggest, baddest cocktail of them all-- the Long Dryland Iced Tea.