It may be called a Long Island Iced Tea, but ironically, tea is not one of its ingredients. Learn how to make the popular Long Island Iced Tea cocktail as well as some ingredient variations.
Long Island Iced Tea Recipe
It's a popular cocktail these days, but the Long Island Iced Tea wasn't even a thing until the early 1970s. And while it doesn't contain tea as an ingredient, it's called Long Island Iced Tea because when all of the various spirits, liqueurs, and other ingredients are combined, it looks a lot like tea. That means that, at least at a distance, nobody needs to know you're enjoying an extremely boozy cocktail.
- ½ ounce vodka
- ½ ounce London dry gin
- ½ ounce light rum
- ½ ounce tequila
- ½ ounce Cointreau or triple sec
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup (or 1 teaspoon superfine sugar)
- 3 to 4 ounces cola (cut calories with diet cola)
- Measure out all the ingredients except for the cola, pour them into a cocktail shaker and shake for about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Strain the contents into a highball glass with ice and top off with the cola.
- Add a lemon slice for garnish.
Adjusting the Strength of Your Long Island Iced Tea
The Long Island contains a lot of alcohol, and the recipe above is strong enough for most people. Some recipes call for an ounce or more of each liquor to make a stronger drink. However strong you prefer your cocktail, the key is to mix equal parts of each liquor called for in order to maintain the same balance.
Ingredient Variations and Additions for Long Island Iced Tea
Follow the original Long Island recipe, but make these additions and/or substitutions.
Make the regular recipe above with a simple alteration: add ½ ounce bourbon when you add the other spirits.
Raspberry Long Island Iced Tea
Add the delicious flavor of raspberries with ½ ounce Chambord or another raspberry liqueur when you add the other spirits.
Celebrate your inner Georgia peach by adding ½ ounce peach schnapps when you add the other ingredients.
Use cherry vodka in place of plain vodka, add 1/2 ounce cherry juice, and substitute lemon lime soda for the cola.
Electric Long Island Tea
Eliminate rum and tequila and add 1/2 ounce bourbon. Substitute lemon lime soda for cola.
California Iced Tea
Give your tea a citrus kick. Substitute freshly squeezed orange juice for the cola.
Long Beach Iced Tea
Add a nice sour element and pretty color. Substitute cranberry juice for cola, and eliminate the lemon juice.
Blue Long Island Tea
Give this tea a color makeover. Add 1/2 ounce or more of blue curaçao (to suit your taste) and top off the glass with sweet and sour mix instead of soda.
Origin of This Cocktail
If you're into cocktail trivia, it may interest you to know that, according to the Field Guide to Cocktails, the Long Island Iced Tea really was created in Long Island. Robert C. Butt, aka "Rosebud," is credited with creating the drink at some point in the 1970s. The drink became immensely popular and remains so today.
Don't Let Long Island Iced Tea Sneak Up on You
What cocktail enthusiasts really need to keep in mind is that the flavor of this cocktail is so smooth that it barely tastes like a cocktail at all. The combination actually tastes more like simple iced tea with lemon, so it's easier to overindulge without realizing it before it's too late. When you order this cocktail in a restaurant or bar, ask how much of each alcohol will be used. That way you'll know just how much alcohol you'll actually be drinking, and you can pace yourself accordingly. It's also a good idea to limit yourself to no more than two Long Islands for the entire evening, and space them out with refreshing ice water or regular iced tea in between. The Long Island is a truly enjoyable cocktail as long as you drink responsibly.