The Perfect Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 3, 2023

Born out of prohibition, the Long Island Iced Tea is a mix of five different spirits, lemon, and Coke, that became extremely famous in the 1970s. Made right, it's a better drink than many give it credit for.

The Long Island Iced Tea, short LIT, is a classic and one of the most ordered drinks. That, however, also has its downsides in that the drink has quite a negative image because it often gets served in a not-so-classic way.

The original recipe is at least nearly as its reputation, yes. Yet, it's not as sickly sweet as the versions you can get at a college bar.

Quick Facts Long Island Iced Tea

  • Method: built in glass
  • Flavor profile: sweet, sour, slightly boozy
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Glassware: highball glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 18% ABV, 24 grams of alcohol per serving

Now, time to get your shaker out and get ready to mix the best version of this misunderstood prohibition classic.


Long Island Iced Tea drink on wood table with black background

Long Island Ice Tea Recipe

A boozy mix of different liquors, coke, and lime juice
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cointreau, coke, Gin, lemon juice, rum, Tequila, vodka
Servings: 1
Calories: 245kcal
Cost: $2.90


  • 1 Jigger


  • 0,5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz White rum
  • 0.5 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau / Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz Coke


  • Fill a Highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add all ingredients to the glass. - Coke goes in last.
    0,5 oz Vodka, 0.5 oz Tequila, 0.5 oz White rum, 0.5 oz Gin, 0.5 oz Cointreau / Triple Sec, 1 oz Lemon juice, 0.5 oz Simple syrup, 1.5 oz Coke
  • Stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  • Garnish with a slice of lemon


Serving: 5.5ozCalories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 15.15gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 70.5mgSugar: 14.15gVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 0.12mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients with Recommendations

The key to making great cocktails is using great products. One of the biggest problems of overly sweet LITs is the lack of quality ingredients masked by sugar and citrus. To make an authentic, delicious Long Island Iced Tea, you'll need:

  • Vodka: Opt for good-value-for-money mid-shelf spirits. For instance, we like to use Absolut Vodka.
  • Tequila: here, best use a good 100% agave blanco tequila like Patrón or Espolòn.
  • Rum: you cannot go wrong with Havana Club in cocktails as it is great value for money.
  • Gin: it can be tempting to go for some extravaganza here, but I recommend keeping it traditional and classic for the Gin, for instance, with a London dry Beefeater.
  • Triple sec: our go-to choice is Cointreau, an ingredient we use in many drink recipes and our favorite triple sec.
  • Fresh lemon juice:  the tangy kick this cocktail needs in order to balance the alcohol. 
  • Simple syrup: Store-bought or homemade with our recipe for simple syrup. Both works.
  • Cola: I am a fan of Coca-Cola in cocktails. Not the light or zero version, though, because the artificial sweeteners lead to a very different taste. 

That's quite an extensive and alcohol-heavy list that turns into a dazzling cocktail when done right. If you keep these recommendations in mind and use the right ratios, your Long Island will be a delight. 

Tips for making a great Long Island Iced Tea

Making a LIT is not very hard. The main things to consider are the same as for numerous other cocktails: 

  • Use only quality and fresh ingredients
  • Don't use sweet & sour mix to save time
  • don't use cheap alcohol. 

What you'll get then is a super intense cocktail that's well-balanced.

Further, the Long Island Cocktail is very easy and convenient to make as it is built in glass. All you need is a highball glass, a jigger, and a bar spoon.

Famous Variations

The Long Island Iced Tea is a drink with countless variations. In fact, there are so many that it is hard to keep track of all of them.

Therefore, here's an overview of the most important ones (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Long Beach Iced Tea: Replace Coke with cranberry juice.
  • Tokyo Iced Tea: Replace Triple Sec with Midori melon liqueur and Coke with lemon and lime soda.
  • Tennessee Iced Tea: Replace Gin with Tennessee whiskey and leave out the Tequila.
  • Grateful Dead: Replace Triple Sec with Chambord and cola with lemon and lime soda.
a glass of Long Island Iced Tea with lemon wedge on wooden table

Does Lond Island Iced Tea get you drunk quickly?

Yes, it does get you drunk quickly. However, not for the reason you might think. When you look at the average ABV of a LIT, it clocks in at around 18%. That's not low but still far from what we consider a high-proof cocktail.

For comparison, vintage classics like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned reach a whopping 25% and more. Of course, the drink size is a lot smaller than for the Long Island.

Thus, let's look at the alcohol intake in grams per serving. It's about 24 grams for the LIT, and surprisingly enough, it's the same for a standard-sized Manhattan Cocktail. So, where does this knock-out reputation come from?

The answer is that a Long Island Iced Tea is incredibly easy to drink. You can barely taste the alcohol and usually drink this cocktail way too fast.

Now, one more thing: if you believe that sugar speeds up the process as well, you're mistaken. Sugar actually slows down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.

What's right - LIT or LIIT?

Even though LIIT seems to be the correct abbreviation at first, LIT is way more common.

First, it's about ease of use and pronunciation. Second, "Long Island" is technically one noun. Considering this, shortening it to LIT is not only easier to say, but also accurate.

History of the Long Island Iced Tea

The origin of the Long Island Iced Tea most likely lies in Kingsport, Tennessee. A guy named Charlie Old Man Bishop made the first version of what we know today as Long Island Iced Tea.

Living in his community named "Long Island" in Kingsport, he created this boozy cocktail during prohibition. The cocktail was supposed to look like a regular serve of Iced Tea and not like a boozy afternoon drink, hence the name.

Later, the recipe was refined by his son Ransom Bishop. The result was a mix of Whiskey, maple syrup, and five other liquors of different quantities. 

Here's Ransom's formula to give you an idea of what the original version looked like:

  • 4 oz. Cola
  • Squeeze 1/2 Lemon & 1/2 Lime
  • 1 oz. Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Rum
  • 1 oz. Vodka

Over time the recipe continued to change until we got today's well-balanced version of the Long Island Iced Tea, nearly as potent as in the traditional cocktail.

Here's also a clip of the grand daughter of Charlie Bishop, talking about his famous prohibition creation:

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