Long Island Iced Tea: Recipe, 7 Alternatives & 5 Alcohol Brands
The Long Island Iced Tea is one of those cocktails that everyone has at least considered ordering once in their life. In this article, we will let you in on why the Long Island Iced Tea is such a staple drink and what goes into making it.
A cold Long Island Iced Tea is a refreshing drink with quite a bit of an alcoholic kick to it. But what exactly makes this drink so beloved? What ingredients are found in a typical Long Island Iced Tea?
If you are interested in learning more about this crowd-favorite cocktail, then stick around. We’ll be covering everything you need to know about this delicious drink, from ingredients to perfect food pairings.
Introduction to Long Island Iced Tea
A Long Island Iced Tea is a popular cocktail that is made by combining a variety of spirits with a splash of cola and lemon juice.
Despite what the name may suggest, this drink does not actually contain any iced tea. In fact, the name comes from the hue that the drink turns when mixed which is reminiscent of the color of iced tea.
What really sets the Long Island Iced Tea apart from most other cocktails is the sheer variety of alcohol that you will find in this drink.
While most cocktails will stick to just one or two spirits, this drink blows all of them out of the water. This high alcohol content is what has allowed the Long Island Iced Tea to claim the spotlight for so long and makes it a popular order for those wanting a stronger cocktail.
Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or attending a boozy brunch, the Long Island Iced Tea is always a great choice of drink.
What Long Island Iced Tea Is
So, what exactly is a Long Island Iced Tea? Where did it come from? What ingredients does it contain? Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the facts surrounding this iconic beverage.
Brief History / Origin
There is some debate regarding the true origin of the Long Island Iced Tea. One theory as to who may have invented the drink is a claim from Robert "Rosebud" Butt, who stated that he invented the cocktail during a contest in 1972.
However, others attribute the invention of the drink to "Old Man Bishop", who was said to have created the drink in the 1920s during prohibition.
Some believe that Bishop’s son, Ransom, then tweaked the drink and so it became the Long Island Iced Tea that we know today.
While we do not know exactly who invented the drink or when, what we do know is that the drink rose to popularity and has remained an iconic staple cocktail of bars ever since.
Now comes the part that everyone has been waiting for: the ingredients of a Long Island Iced Tea. Let’s go ahead and take a look at what is included in a standard version of this cocktail. These include components that range from tequila and rum to lemon juice and Coca-Cola:
- Tequila: This gives the drink the strong, spicy taste commonly associated with Tequila. There is also a subtle sweetness to this spirit, with hints of caramel and honey.
- Vodka: While Vodka is commonly thought of as being a rather flavorless spirit, its inclusion in the Long Island Iced Tea is essential. It boosts the alcohol content without stepping on the toes of the other spirits.
- Rum: This adds a slightly lighter, fruity, and floral taste to the cocktail. You may notice the addition of this liquor provides notes of coconut or vanilla, making for a slightly sweeter flavor profile.
- Triple Sec: The addition of Triple Sec gives the Long Island Iced Tea a nice balance of bitter and sweet, with hints of citrus which pair wonderfully with the Cola that is added at the end.
- Gin: Fresh, spicy, with a hint of pine; adding Gin to this drink provides more complex tastes and broadens the flavor profile. The hints of citrus in this spirit compliment the Triple Sec perfectly.
- Lemon juice: For that extra boost of citrus tang, a generous squeeze of lemon juice is added to the drink. This also helps to cut through any sweetness that may need to be balanced out.
- Simple syrup: Speaking of sweetness, a dash of simple sugar syrup is also included in this drink. Again, this is to balance out the bitter, sour flavors that are present in the cocktail.
- Cola: Finally, the drink is topped off with a splash of Cola. Unlike most cocktails, only a small amount of this is added, with the majority of the drink being composed of various alcohols.
Best Alcohol Brands for Long Island Iced Tea
If you’re considering whipping up a Long Island Iced Tea at home, then you may be asking yourself one question: what the best alcohol brands are when it comes to mixing up this drink?
Whether it’s the vodka, rum, gin, tequila, or Triple Sec, it’s important to choose the right alcohol. In this section, we’ll detail all of the best brands for your Long Island Iced Tea.
Vodka is an important component of a Long Island Iced Tea, meaning you want to make sure that you are selecting a good vodka brand.
There are a few different choices here that are going to make for a great cocktail. These range from Absolut to Ketel One, and they all provide a slightly different personality to the drink.
- Absolut: Absolut is one of the leading vodka brands – and for good reason. This vodka is rich, full-bodied and complex. Beyond that, this brand of vodka is also made using all-natural ingredients
- Smirnoff: This is another extremely popular brand of vodka. Smirnoff vodka is triple-distilled and filtered ten times in order to ensure maximum smoothness
- Grey Goose: Another brand of vodka that is known for producing an extremely smooth spirit is Grey Goose. This vodka is extremely high-quality and made from the finest French ingredients
- Ketel One: Ketel One vodka has a very smooth, refined taste. Something that makes this perfect for a Long Island Iced Tea is the hint of citrus in this vodka, which pairs well with the lemon and cola in the cocktail.
The lightness and slightly sweet taste that rum brings to your Long Island Iced Tea is really going to take it to the next level.
As such, you want to be sure you are choosing a great brand. In this section, there are two that really stand out:
- Bacardi: Bacardi is an extremely popular brand of rum that has a smooth, floral, and fruity taste. With this rum, you can expect to taste notes of orange blossom, rose, and lavender, as well as various tropical fruits
- Captain Morgan: Captain Morgan rum is smooth and medium-bodied, with hints of vanilla. This rum has a subtle hint of spice without it being too overpowering.
Fresh and spicy, the next spirit that you want to consider when mixing up your Long Island Iced Tea is the perfect gin.
Again, we’ve got two top brands of gin that we recommend for this cocktail. Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are a cut above the rest when it comes to making an Long Island Iced Tea:
- Tanqueray: Tanqueray is a classic gin brand that is delightfully crisp and dry. This gin contains strong notes of juniper, as well as a subtle spice
- Bombay Sapphire: An absolutely iconic and beloved brand of gin, Bombay Sapphire has a complex and smooth taste. This gin is aromatic with a clean, balanced flavor.
You want a strong yet balanced spicy and sweet flavor in your Long Island Iced Tea. You’re going to want to make sure you are using a great brand of tequila.
Once again, there are just two brands that you should use as your alcoholic base:
- Jose Cuervo: Jose Cuervo is a strong and spicy tequila that will work wonderfully in your Long Island Iced Tea. This tequila is super smooth and well-balanced, making it a top pick for cocktails
- Sauza: This is a slightly sweeter tequila that will be a great pick if you want to really balance out the bitter and spicy notes in the cocktail.
Finally, you want to consider the Triple sec that you will be using in your Long Island Iced Tea. Triple sec has been well-loved for over 150 years.
Usually containing 20 percent to 40 percent alcohol, it is a staple in cocktails such as margaritas, cosmopolitans, mai tais – and of course – Long Island Iced Teas.
You can use a store-bought sour mix or make your own: This iconic orange liquor can be bought at almost any liquor store, or you can elect to make your own triple sec at home.
There are countless recipes out there that detail how to go about whipping up a batch.
Recipe – How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea
Now it is time for us to share with you the holy grail: the perfect Long Island Iced Tea recipe. Let’s go ahead and walk through some step-by-step instructions on how to create this beloved cocktail.
In a tall glass with ice, add the following ingredients:
- 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 lemon juice
And here’s how you do it:
- Top the drink with a splash of cola. You can use any cola you desire, and simply pour it until the glass is full.
- Stir so that the ingredients are combined.
- Garnish with a wedge of lemon. While this step is optional, it will take your Long Island Iced Tea to the next level in terms of visuals and presentation.
- Add a straw and enjoy!
Time & Occasions for Drinking a Long Island Iced Tea
While many will say that you never need a special occasion in order to enjoy a Long Island Iced Tea (no objections from us!), it is more common for people to order this cocktail during special events.
During the Christmas season, there will be a noticeable increase in people ordering this drink (as well as during the New Year). It is also often a tradition to order this cocktail to celebrate your birthday.
This drink is also particularly popular during the summer, as the citrus taste and refreshing flavors are great when you’re looking for a drink with tropical notes to cool you down and quench your thirst.
Since a Long Island Iced Tea is so refreshing, many elect to pair this drink with spicier foods. This means that as the food heats your mouth up, the icy drink will cool it down – keeping everything balanced.
Not only that – the subtly spicy notes in the drink pair unbelievably well with spicier foods. Due to this, common food pairings for a Long Island Iced Tea are buffalo wings, tacos, enchiladas, hot chili, spicy fajitas.
Best Glass to Serve a Long Island Iced Tea
A Long Island Iced Tea is best served in a standard highball glass. This is a glass that is on the larger side, which is needed in this instance for the ice along with all of the spirits.
Long Island Iced Tea’s taste best when they are ice cold. Therefore, a large amount of ice is often used when mixing and serving this drink. This is why larger glasses such as a highball glass are preferred for this drink over any others.
Variations of Long Island Iced Tea
There are a few variations of the classic Long Island Iced Tea that play around with ingredients in order to create new cocktails.
From Texas Tea to Electric Iced Tea, these variations combine different flavors into a great-tasting drink. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some common variations of this cocktail:
- Texas Tea – Created by adding ½ ounce of bourbon to a classic Long Island Iced Tea. This makes for an even more potent cocktail.
- Long Beach Iced Tea – Made by replacing the cola in a typical Long Island Iced Tea with cranberry juice. This results in a more tart, yet slightly more fruity cocktail.
- Miami Iced Tea – Replace the tequila with peach schnapps and substitute the cola for a lemon-lime soda. This makes for a much fruitier, summery cocktail.
- Electric Iced Tea – To create this, substitute the triple sec with blue curaçao and the cola for lemon-lime soda. This results in a brilliant, bright blue cocktail.
- Hawaiian Iced Tea – Made by replacing the cola of a Long Island Iced Tea with pineapple juice. This leads to a super tropical and sweet taste.
Similar Cocktails You Will Enjoy
If you enjoy the taste of a Long Island Iced Tea and are on the hunt for similar drinks that you may also like, then look no further.
Have you heard of the Zombie, Hurricane, or Singapore Sling? We’ve got some great cocktails that Long Island Iced Tea fans are sure to love.
This delicious cocktail contains rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. This drink has strong flavors of citrus and tropical fruit, making it a super refreshing summer cocktail.
The mixing of rum and citrus makes this drink very reminiscent of the Long Island Iced Tea, and it also has that same refreshing effect.
The Zombie cocktail is another fruity, summery drink that is made by combining fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums.
As is the case with the Long Island Iced Tea, many different liqueurs go into this cocktail – making the two drinks very similar. If you are a Long Island Iced Tea fan, then a Zombie cocktail is definitely worth a try.
The Hurricane cocktail is a sweet, refreshing drink that is made with rum, lemon juice, and passion fruit syrup. Again, this combination of rum and citrus makes this drink comparable to a Long Island Iced Tea.
If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter version of the Long Island Iced Tea with a lower alcohol content, then the Hurricane cocktail may be the perfect pick for you.
The Margarita cocktail is a very popular choice of drink all over the world. This cocktail contains tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.
Since all of these ingredients are also present in a Long Island Iced Tea, it is not difficult to see why this drink is on our list. For a Long Island Iced Tea that is a bit less intense, a Margarita cocktail is definitely the way to go.
The Singapore Sling cocktail is a gin-based drink that contains cherry brandy, Benedictine, Angostura bitters, pineapple and lime juice. While this is a slightly less common order, it is absolutely delicious.
The combination of gin and citrus is similar to the flavors found in a Long Island Iced Tea, making this cocktail a great pick if you want to try something a little different.
The Blue Lagoon cocktail is a French drink that is made by combining blue Curaçao with vodka and lemonade. This is incredibly similar to an Electric Iced Tea, and will definitely be a new favorite of yours if you enjoy that particular cocktail.
The bright blue drink is a great pick for a summer cocktail that tastes similar to a Long Island Iced Tea but with a touch less alcohol.
The Bahama Mama cocktail is a drink that is made by blending orange juice, pineapple juice, regular rum, coconut-flavored rum, and grenadine – along with a handful of ice.
This drink has the same citrus and rum combination that is found in a Long Island Iced Tea. The difference with the Bahama Mama is the coconut and pineapple flavors that give this drink a sweeter, more tropical flavor.