All of the ingredients that go into a Long Island Iced Tea
long island iced tea cocktail

A competitive start

The Long Island Iced Tea cocktail is claimed to have been the creation of a competition entry said to have taken place in 1972, New York. The challenge was to create a mixed drink made with triple sec.

However, there are two competing origin stories; one hailing from Long Island, Tennessee and one from Long Island, New York. Robert Butt claims to have invented the Long Island Iced Tea while working at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York.

Served on the rocks with a combination of different spirits, triple sec and a splash of cola as a mix, it produces a much higher alcohol content than most highball drinks. The cocktail has been criticised for its large number of ingredients, making it cumbersome to prepare in busy bars. So, what exactly goes into a long island iced tea?

What goes into a Long Island Iced Tea?

A Long Island Iced Tea is typically made with vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of cola, which gives the drink the same amber hue as iced tea (hence the reference).

The cocktail has a much higher alcohol concentration (approximately 22%) than most highball drinks due to the relatively small amount of mixer and can be served in different quantities.

A standard size drink can be anything from 250 ml (8.3 Oz) to 360 ml (12 Oz), while larger servings can be up to 480 ml (16 Oz). Taken at an average of 250 ml the cocktail can easily contain 20.5 grams of alcohol.

Here are the ingredients needed to make a Long Island Iced Tea:

Long Island ice tea

The International Bartenders Association (IBA)’s recipe calls for equal parts vodka, tequila, white rum, Cointreau (triple sec), gin, 2 parts lemon juice, 1+1⁄3 syrup topped with cola. After stirring gently, the drink may also be garnished with a lemon slice.

A more complex recipe published by The New York Times differs from the IBA recipe in that it uses maple syrup instead of simple syrup, uses both lemon and lime juice, and adds salt.

Why the Long Island Iced Tea is a crowd favourite

The Long Island Iced Tea is considered a favourite among university students in the United States; not only does it pack quite a punch, it’s also sweet, colourful and the refreshing taste makes them dangerously easy to drink!

The variety of spirits needed to prepare the drink is one of the reasons why bartenders are polarised on whether the cocktail is in fact a favourite or not; while it takes time to make, it does give reason for having a fully stocked bar which means one can also prepare many other types of cocktails.

One thing is guaranteed though – chugging a number of these cocktails is a sure way of having an early night.