No bar handbook is complete without a recipe for the Long Island Iced Tea. Although the drink is enjoyed for its distinctive sweet-and-sour flavor, it is most renowned for its laundry list of spirits. It is also surrounded by an air of contention, as the true inventor of the drink has been a matter of speculation for many years.
In total, a traditional Long Island Iced Tea contains five liquors: vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec. Technically, triple sec is considered a liqueur, so the total is four liquors and one liqueur. These hearty spirits are mixed with cola and sweet-and-sour mix to create a Long Island classic cocktail.
A great deal of controversy and tons of false claims exist regarding the origins of the Long Island Iced Tea. One popular story claims that this cocktail was not invented in New York at all, but rather in a community known as Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee. According to this story, the drink was invented during the Prohibition Era and became popular for being a spirit-loaded concoction that looked completely harmless. The second story dates the invention of the cocktail to the late 1970s and names Robert Butt, a bartender at Long Island's Oak Beach Inn, as the inventor.
Even the biggest of classics begs to be tampered with over the decades. By substituting an ingredient or two, many variations of the Long Island Iced Tea have been invented: Long Beach Iced Tea replaces cola with cranberry juice; Code Blue replaces cola with lemon-lime soda and triple sec with blue curacao; Tokyo Tea (or Three Mile Island) replaces cola with 1 oz. green melon liqueur; Georgia Iced Tea replaces cola with sweetened iced tea.
These are just a few examples of new concoctions that have sprung from the original Long Island Iced Tea. Most bartender recipe websites contain pages upon pages of variations.
An original Long Island Iced Tea will have a slightly murky brown color that, indeed, resembles a glass of iced tea. The top is slightly frothy from shaking, and it is typically served on the rocks in either a beer mug or a highball glass. Lemon slices are a popular garnish.
Any type of alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. This is especially true when dealing with a cocktail that combines more than one type of spirit. With five types of alcohol in the recipe, the Long Island Iced Tea is certainly a top item on the list of drinks to consume responsibly.