Weekly Cocktail #24: Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail.

Well, “when in Rome…” And in this case, “when in Long Island….make Long Island Iced Tea”.

While this cocktail is much tastier than you might think, there is no tea in this drink, and there is nothing “long” about it. “Long” drinks usually denote cocktails that are less boozy and often served in higher volumes, like a Pimms Cup or Dark n Stormy (a Diablo is also a good long drink). Long drinks often make for good summer cocktails, as you can sip them over a lazy afternoon. But with the Long Island Iced Tea, you can sip one over a full afternoon and still feel like you had a Three-Martini lunch…umm… make that a four-martini lunch.

Many ingredients, but most are easy to find or are in your bar right now.

The trick with the Long Island Iced Tea (Latin translation: needus designus driverus) is that most recipes suggest anywhere from four to seven ounces of high-proof spirits per drink (most cocktails have two ounces)- but you really don’t taste the booze. The Long Island Iced Tea tastes good (very good if you tweak the recipe), and goes down way to easy for its own (and your own) good.

Most recipes suggest an ounce to an ounce-and-a-half each of gin, vodka, tequila, rum and triple sec, with some lemon, simple syrup and a splash of coke. We include that recipe below, but it is a bit sweet for most. And while it tastes good, most of the attraction is of the “I can’t believe this drink is smooth with so much booze” category. Our version lightens the drink somewhat (not much) but omits the triple sec and adds more lemon and coke. Usually we don’t mess with original recipes without changing the name of the cocktail. But there are literally dozens of variations on the Long Island Iced Tea (see here, if curious), so whats one more version of the recipe?

Long Island Iced Tea and ingredients.

As for the spirits used in the recipe, there is no need for anything special. Decent, inexpensive rum, gin, tequila and vodka will do fine. The real alchemy of the drink is how the spirits mesh, if you add something too good, or aged, it won’t help and may actually harm the drink- and why waste the money? If you do want the best result, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup will work better, but sour mix will work in a pinch. All recipes suggest Coke, and that’s what we use, but any decent cola should be fine. And serve with lots of ice, the dilution helps the drink, and softens the booze (a tiny bit). And in the end, you have a very tasty drink that is a good summer sip. Think rum and coke, but with more tartness, depth and complexity. Just be careful if you have more than one.

A few too many and you may end up looking like this…

As for the history of this drink, there are simply too many stories to know where it came from. TGI Fridays claims they invented it (doubtful), but bars from Long Island to Tennessee also claim to be the creators. And to make matters worse, the timeframe varies anywhere from the 1920’s to 1970’s. But since neither tequila or vodka were common in the states until the 1950’s, we suspect the Long Island Iced Tea is a more recent creation. But perhaps fittingly, after a few of these cocktails, no one would remember anyway… 😉

The Long Island Iced Tea: (Our version)


  • 3/4 oz. white rum
  • 3/4 oz. blanco tequila
  • 3/4 oz. dry gin
  • 3/4 oz. vodka
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 2-3 oz. cola
  • Lemon wheel, for garnish


  1. Combine the spirits, lemon juice and simple syrup in a highball or Collins glass with lots of ice. Mix and then top with the cola. Add the lemon wedge and serve.

Long Island Iced Tea: (Classic version)


  • 1 oz. white rum
  • 1 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. dry gin
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • Splash of cola
  • Lemon wheel, for garnish


  1. Combine the spirits, lemon juice and simple syrup in a highball or Collins glass with lots of ice. Mix and then top with the cola. Add the lemon wedge and serve.

30 thoughts on “Weekly Cocktail #24: Long Island Iced Tea

    • Thanks for reading! The main thing is to control sweetness, limiting sugar or triple sec will both work..it just depends on if you like the extra orange flavor of the triple sec…

  1. Pingback: Classic Cocktail: Long Island Ice Tea « The Cocktail Nest

  2. I don’t know what I like more about your blog — your photos or your food! Oh, and I want one of those hula girl glasses! I nominated you for the versatile blogger award! The logo is on my most recent blog post for you to snag.

  3. When I was a bartender we used the same alcohols and instead of lemon we used sweet and sour mix along with the coke. I had a fellow come into the bar indicating that because I was a woman I could not make a good drink. I made him a Long Island Ice Tea!

  4. Looks like a pharmacy is needed for this one. I loved “Long Island Tea” before I had too many *smile – I didn’t have a clue what I was drinking there at Marriott Hotel in Boston, next day I couldn’t move my head. After that evening in Boston about 20 years ago .. haven’t touched again.

      • It’s a dangerous drink, because you don’t feel the alcohol content in – it’s only so refreshing. This time I learned from my mistake, but I think it’s time to have ONE *smile

  5. While in Rome, recently, my daughter (all 21 years of her) “discovered” the LIIT. It is a dangerous drink, so we limited her to one. But even with that, it made for fantastic vacation photos and videos. Heh-heh-heh!

  6. Pingback: Mixology Monday Cocktail: Long Island Planter’s Punch (LIPP) « Putney Farm

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