Despite the long name, the Long Island Iced Tea is neither a long drink nor a simple drink. It’s perhaps one of the most complex and strong drinks you’ll ever find on a menu, and it hits you hard.
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What is Long Island Iced Tea?
The exact origin of the Long Island Iced Tea is unclear, but the general recipe is the same: way more spirits than mixers, and something that reads more like a home-made concoction meant to burn you liver. But somehow it tastes great, and it’s also got a huge following.
The name itself doesn’t lend you any clues as to what’s in the drink, so let me tell you. It’s a mix of everything that’s leftover in a bar: vodka, tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup, lemon juice, and Coke of all things. The Coke is there to give tie everything together and give it that vague caramel hue that makes it look like an innocent glass of iced tea.
You’ll find people have strong opinions on the LIIT, same as with the Dirty Martini. It’s either an amazing feat and something to be celebrated, or it’s an affront to God and should not exist. No one is just ‘meh’ about Long Island Iced Tea.
Long Island Ice Tea Cocktail Recipe
- 0.75 oz vodka
- 0.75 oz white rum
- 0.75 oz tequila
- 0.75 oz gin
- 0.75 oz orange liqueur
- 0.75 oz simple syrup
- 0.75 oz lemon juice
- Coke to top about 1 oz
- Build in glass, highball, half-filled with ice.
- Top with coke, stir a couple of times.
- Garnish with lime or lemon wheel.
- Despite finding itself in a highball glass, this is not a highball. This is mostly alcohol and is not meant to be a light drink.
- You can scale down the drink to get a much smaller one. The ratio is 1:1 of absolutely everything, except maybe the coke.
When is this drink best ?
Long Island Iced Tea is absolutely great when you want to get hammered fast. Or when you’re in your early 20s and feel like you can recover from a serious hangover within 24h. The fun thing about this drink is that despite being so strong, it has a very casual vibe and it’s far too easy to get carried away and drink it faster than you should.
I’ve seen LIIT on bar menus, office party menus, wedding menus, beachside bar menus, and even upscale restaurants. There is no right or wrong place or moment for a LIIT, as long as you have no obligations the next day.
My thoughts on Long Island Iced Tea
I thought it sounded terrifying on paper, and then I took a sip (or several). I declare myself a fan, and I think the mixers are what tie everything together. I also think the Coke could easily be swapped for another soda, and the cocktail would work just the same; it’s the lemon juice and syrup that cut through the alcohol and then pair with the triple sec.
That being said, I do think this absolutely needs some kind of soda, regardless of flavor. The soda is there to water everything down, add some carbonation, and a little overall flavor. And, since this is ‘iced tea’ I think a dark soda would work best.
Overall I liked LIIT, and I could 100% feel the burn after each sip. As fun and delicious as this is, it’s strong and should be had in moderation.
If you like Long Island Iced tea, you might also like…
Anejo Highball – somewhat similar in flavor, but rum-based
Pina Colada – just as sweet and just as easy to underestimate; pineapple hides booze very well
Mai Tai – sweet and incredibly strong; mostly alcohol
Rum Punch – a summery rum punch
Black Eyed Susan – a half-sibling of the Long Island Iced Tea
Notes, substitutes, and tips
This might sound counter-intuitive but you don’t need the best quality ingredients for Long Island Iced Tea. All of the spirits are masked with mixers, and using your finest tequila or rum would be a waste here.
You can turn this into a highball if you like. Add more Coke, up to 3 oz.