The Long Island Iced Tea

The legendary “kitchen-sink” cocktail packs the punch you think it does, and then some.

The Long Island Iced Tea

To the novice cocktail connoisseur, the Long Island Iced Tea might seem to be made up of random splashes of alcohol. I recently discovered, and pleasantly so, that this drink is a little more carefully constructed than that. Yes, there’s a fair amount of giggle juice thrown in, but it isn’t just a haphazard potion created with fistfuls of liquor bottles. If yours is being made this way, then the bartender is Bugs Bunny.

Naturally a drink this strong and heavy will have a slightly hazy history. Some legends claim it was born during 1920s Prohibition, in Kentucky. This recipe also included whiskey and maple syrup, and when revelers would illegally imbibe it, they needed a mixture that “looked” like it wasn’t alcoholic. “Oh no, officer. This is an iced tea. Yeah, that’s the ticket, sure…” They at least wanted something that, at first glance, looked innocent enough.

Other stories revolve around a bartender from the drink’s namesake of Long Island, New York. Robert “Rosebud” Butt is said to have invented this classic cocktail at the Oak Beach Inn in 1972. But earlier claims to the title have been staked in “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook” from 1961, despite no actual recipe being found there. Then in 1966, the “American Home All-Purpose Cookbook” also is said to have included a recipe.

By the 1990s, word was that a conference in Washington D.C. came together to decide that the 1920s version is the “original” take on the drink. These claims have been challenged, especially since the cocktail didn’t really become a popular household name until the 1970s.

What are the Best Spirits to Use for a Long Island Iced Tea?

While making this recipe, the best way to go is with a mixture of clear spirits. Since gin and vodka are see-thru by nature, you’ll want to make sure your tequila and rum are also the same. Find a nice white rum and tequila for your Tea. Each spirit won’t overpower the other, giving your drink an even flavor and pretty strong kick.

The Long Island Iced Tea
Servings 1
5 minutes


  • 3/4 ounce vodka
  • 3/4 ounce white rum
  • 3/4 ounce silver tequila
  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce triple sec
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Cola to top
  • 1 lemon wedge for garnish


  • Fill a Collins glass with ice to keep your drink chilled.
  • Pour in the vodka, white rum, silver tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
    The Long Island Iced Tea
  • Top the mixture with a splash of cola for that classic color and a hint of sweetness.
    The Long Island Iced Tea
  • Stir the cocktail briefly to blend the flavors without diluting the drink too much.
    The Long Island Iced Tea
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge on the rim of the glass for a zesty aroma and a touch of elegance.
  • Serve the cocktail with a straw for easy sipping.


Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
The Long Island Iced Tea

FAQs & Tips

The Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea Variations

When it comes to a cocktail like the Long Island Iced Tea, there aren’t many drinks that compare. A few do, in name, and we have a couple recipes here at Twist & Toast for you to enjoy:

  • Bergamot Iced Tea – Vodka and Earl Grey come together in this elegant late-evening tipple.
  • Green Tea Shot – Schnapps, whiskey and sour mix make for a delicious and strong substitute for a real green tea.
  • Long Beach Iced Tea – Instead of cola, this recipe uses cranberry juice for a tart, refreshing mixer.
  • Homemade Sweet & Sour Mix – Here’s Twist & Toast’s awesome recipe for the mix you’ll want to keep on hand at your home bar.

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