The Long Island Iced Tea and Its Many Variations

Long island iced tea

The Spruce Eats / Claire Cohen

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
  • Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
335 Calories
2g Fat
43g Carbs
7g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 335
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 193mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 7g
Calcium 42mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Long Island iced tea is a popular mixed drink. Get ready to pour because the recipe requires five white distilled spirits (including triple sec), a shot of sour mix, and cola. Despite the fact that it contains no tea, the Long Island is as refreshing as a tall glass of iced tea. The taste is surprisingly similar too, but it can pack a punch and all that alcohol can quickly sneak up on you.

Among the most famous cocktails, the Long Island ice tea is at the top of the list. Since bartenders know the recipe, it's an easy one to order at most bars and it's simple enough to make at home as long as you have all of the ingredients. Most often, the least-expensive gin, rum, tequila, and vodka from the bar's well are used, making it budget-friendly as well.

A notorious reputation for getting people drunk follows the Long Island iced tea. The problem is that it's an easy drinker that's often made too strong. Many bartenders (professional and amateur alike) will over-pour the liquors. This not only makes the drink stronger, but it also knocks the taste out of balance. To make a better Long Island iced tea, keep in mind that flavor is more important than potency. In total, this recipe contains 2 1/2 ounces of liquor. While it is on the light end of the Long Island's spectrum, it's still the same as drinking three or four beers.

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Click Play to See This Legendary Long Island Iced Tea Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce light rum
  • 1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce blanco tequila
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • 1 ounce sour mix
  • 1 to 2 ounces cola (to taste)
  • Garnish: lemon wedge

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ling Island Ice tea ingredients and variants
      The Spruce
  2. In a collins glass filled with ice, pour the gin, rum, tequila, vodka, triple sec, and sour mix.

  3. Stir well.

  4. Top the glass off with cola.

    Add cola to iced tea
    The Spruce
  5. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve and enjoy.

    Finished Long Island Iced Tea
    The Spruce

Who Created the Long Island Iced Tea?

The story of the Long Island iced tea is as sordid as its ingredient list and its true origin may be lost to history. One Prohibition-era story credits Charles Bishop, a 1930s moonshiner in then-dry Tennessee. Jump to the 1970s and the concoction's creation could go to Robert Bott, a bartender from Long Island. Then there is the tale that the Long Island was an original drink of the T.G.I. Friday's franchise. It is entirely possible that Bishop made the drink and that it was forgotten for a few decades until Bott remade it and gave it the now-famous name. At some point, the restaurant probably caught wind of it and claimed it as their own (this is not unheard of).

How Strong Is the Long Island Iced Tea?

The five liquors make the Long Island iced tea seem like a strong drink, but if you do the math, it's not terribly potent compared to other cocktails. When you pour 80-proof liquors, 60-proof triple sec, and top it with 2 ounces of soda, its alcohol content falls in the 16 percent ABV (32 proof) range. That is about the same as a strong rum and Coke and half the strength of a gin martini.

Recipe Variations

When a drink is this famous, there's bound to be many different ways to make it. Some of the most popular variations include:

  • Shake the liquors and sour mix, strain it into a glass with fresh ice, then top it with cola. This approach adds dilution and creates a mellower flavor that's rather pleasant.
  • Skip the sour mix and use 1/2 ounce each of simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice instead.
  • To make it a bit stronger (without going overboard), try 3/4 ounce each of the four liquors and 1/2 ounce each of triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup (or 1 ounce sour mix for the last two). This version has a total of 3 3/4 ounces of liquor and an alcohol content of 20 percent ABV (40 proof).


The Long Island also inspired many other "iced tea" cocktails over the years. They're all made the same way and simply replace an ingredient or two:

  • Long Beach Tea: Contains everything in the Long Island, but the ​cola is replaced with cranberry juice.
  • Miami Iced Tea: Peach schnapps replaces the tequila, and lemon-lime is the soda of choice.
  • Hawaiian Iced Tea: This drink is topped with pineapple juice instead of soda.
  • Electric Iced Tea: Blue curaçao replaces the triple sec and the recipe uses lemon-lime soda to create a brilliant blue drink.
  • Texas Tea: Simply add bourbon to the Long Island for an even more potent mix. Some people mistakenly refer to this as a Long Island, but whiskey is not included in the original (or accepted) recipe.