Long Island iced tea cocktail Bartesian

Origin Story: How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea

Ever wonder how the Long Island Iced Tea became such a staple cocktail? Find out what the origins of the drink are so you can understand how to enjoy it best and how to make a Long Island Iced Tea the next time someone requests it.

The origins of the Long Island Iced Tea

There are two versions of the Long Island Iced Tea origin story of which neither can be fully substantiated, but, either way, it gives us a basis for how the drink came to be.

Story one: Old Man Bishop

This version dates the drink back to the 1920s when a man named Old Man Bishop lived in Kingsport, Tennessee in a community named Long Island. As this was during the Prohibition era, Americans were trying to find ways to consume alcohol without getting caught. They took it upon themselves to make their cocktails. To get the most out of a drink, it’s said Old Man Bishop combined tequila, vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey with maple syrup, thus creating the Long Island Iced Tea. Although at the time, they called it the Old Man Bishop.

Story two: Robert Butt

The second origin story possibility for the Long Island Iced Tea is it was invented in the 1970s. In this case, a bartender named Robert Butt from Long Island, New York created the cocktail during a competition. The contest was to submit an original cocktail featuring triple sec, so he mixed the spirits with triple sec and was left with a Long Island Iced Tea.

Why is it called iced tea?

This is a point of confusion for some since it makes people think the drink will be a spiked iced tea when in fact, there’s no iced tea in the drink. It was called an iced tea due to its color, and in the endeavor to hide the fact it was an alcoholic drink.

What’s in a Long Island iced tea

This cocktail is like a cauldron of spirits. In a Long Island Iced Tea, there’s vodka, tequila, rum, triple sec, gin, and some Coke. With all that, this cocktail has a 22 percent alcohol concentration. This is why people during the prohibition or those looking for a strong drink appreciate what’s in a Long Island Iced Tea.

How to make a Long Island iced tea

Despite all the ingredients in a Long Island Iced Tea, making it is pretty simple. Mix the spirits but hold off on adding the Coke until the very end or else it will go flat. Garnish it with something simple since there’s already so much going on in the drink. Try either a wedge or the peel from a lime or a lemon.

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