Iced Tea Recipe

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Iced Tea Recipe

The Best Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

There’s not a drop of tea in this popular, but potent concoction. It’s famous for harnessing the power of five white spirits – vodka, gin, tequila, rum and triple sec – with a hint of sours and a refreshing splash of cola. It’s one of the strongest highballs in the world, and at 22% alcohol, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, many recognise it as the “Trojan Horse” of drinks, because it’s naturally sweet flavours disguise the fact that you’re taking in five of the strongest.

Hazy Origins

As with most timeless cocktails, the history of the Long Island Iced Tea is fuzzy at best. However, two compelling origins stories stand out. The first story takes us back to the Prohibition days of the Roaring Twenties. The inventor was one Old Man Bishop, a bootlegger who concocted this “iced tea” in Long Island, Kingsport, Tennessee – which is as far away from New York’s Long Island as you can imagine!

Old Man’s son, Ransom Bishop, perfected the recipe, culminating in a powerful blend that was to satisfy the booze-thirsty palates of what was then a very dry American state. The old recipe substituted tequila for Canadian whiskey (the most popular bootleg spirit of the tome) with lashes of maple syrup instead of sour mix.

The second tale of the birth of the Long Island Iced Tea takes place on the “real” Long Island of New York State. In the 1970s, bartender Robert “Rosebud” Butt invested a special drink for a concert at the Oak Beach Inn. Here, the contemporary recipe had its debut, with the addition of the now established ingredients of triple sec, tequila and sours.

But why was it called a Long Island Iced Tea? Well, if the 1920s story is to be believed, many alcoholic beverages of the time had seemingly innocent names so as to throw off the Prohibition police. The name could also be attributed to the amber appearance of the spirit-and-cola blend, which could easily be likened to a tall glass of iced tea.

Modern Recipe

Do you have a 70s-inspired disco party in the pipeline? This contemporary recipe – born from Robert Butt’s experiments on Long Island – will definitely get your guests on the dance floor. Here’s how to mix it up. Your ingredients are:

15ml of triple sec

15ml vodka

15ml tequila

15ml gin

15ml light rum

30ml sour mix


One wedge of lemon for garnishing

Pour all of the spirits – including the sour mix – into a tall Collins glass with ice. Stir or shake the spirits together well. Then, top off the whole mixture with a refreshing splash of Cola, and garnish with the lemon wedge. It’s a simple cocktail to pull off, and it packs one hell of a punch!


Once you’ve mastered the art of the Long Island Iced Tea, why not explore some variations? There’s the Long Beach Iced Tea, which is a fruity version of the original, substituting cranberry juice for cola. The Miami Iced Tea takes it one step further by adding peach schnapps instead of tequila, and lemon soda instead of cola – with cranberry juice, of course. Looking for a bit of Eastern Flair? Try a playful Japanese Iced Tea. Replace the triple sec with Midori, and instead of cola, use lime soda.