Long Island Ice Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 5, 2022 
Born out of prohibition, the Long Island Iced Tea became famous in the 70s. It is a boozy mix of ingredients that often gets served in a not-so-classic way.

The Long Island Iced Tea is a classic. It's one of the most ordered drinks, which also has its downsides in that the drink has quite a negative image.

The original recipe is as boozy as its reputation, yes. But it's not nearly as sickly sweet as the versions you can perhaps order at your local pub or college bar.

To make the Long Island Iced Tea, or LIT as it's sometimes called, is not very hard. The main things to consider are the same as for numerous other cocktails: 

Long Island Iced Tea

Use only quality and fresh ingredients. Don't use sweet & sour mix to save time, and certainly don't use cheap alcohol. What you'll get then is a super intense cocktail that's well-balanced.

Read on and find out how you can make the best version of this classic cocktail at home.

How to make a great Long Island Iced Tea

I said it already, but I can't emphasize it enough. The key to making great cocktails is using great products. That means no sweet and sour mix from the supermarket. 

To make an authentic, delicious Long Island Ices Tea, you need:

  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Rum
  • Gin
  • Triple Sec
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Coke

That's quite an extensive and alcohol-heavy list that turns into a sensational cocktail when done right.

The Sour

Using freshly squeezed lemon will create a zesty, tangy, and crisper drink without the additional sweetening. A kick this cocktail needs in order to balance the alcohol. 

Which alcohol for the Long Island Iced Tea?

And again, using quality liquor will make this drink a lot better. One of the biggest problems of overly sweet LITs is the lack of quality ingredients. And what makes things worse: to cover up the harsh notes of cheap alcohol, people use more sugar and citrus.

So opt for good-value-for-money mid-shelf spirits. For example, I like to use Absolut, Jose Cuervo, Havana, and Beefeater for a Long Island Ices Tea. 

Long Island Iced Tea

Of course, you can use your personal favorites, but don't go for too extravagant versions and keep it classic. -Especially the Gin part can be very tempting here.

And for the Triple Sec, my go-to choice is Cointreau, an ingredient I use in many recipes and my favorite Triple Sec. If you keep these recommendations in mind, your Long Island Iced Tea will be a delight. 

The Sweet

I usually use homemade syrup in my cocktails. It's easy to make and saves a few bucks compared to the store-bought version. All you need is sugar, water, a saucepan, and a stove. If you want to try it yourself, here's the recipe for simple syrup.

As for the coke, I have to say I am a fan of regular Coca-Cola in cocktails. Not the light or zero version because the artificial sweeteners lead to a significantly different taste. 

History of the Long Island Iced Tea

The origin of the Long Island Iced Tea most likely lies in Kingsport, Tennessee. It was there, that a guy named "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. -That also explains the name. The cocktail was supposed to look like a regular serve of Iced Tea and definitely not like a boozy afternoon drink.

Long Island Iced Teas

The recipe later got refined by his son Ransom Bishop. The result is a mix of Whiskey, maple syrup, and five other liquors of different quantities. 

Here's his recipe 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 changed slightly. Today's version of the Long Island Iced Tea is better balanced. But it is still almost as potent as in the traditional cocktail recipe.

Famous LIT Variations

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 a short list of Long Island Iced Tea variations. It's not exhaustive, but it gives an impression of this topic.

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.


Perhaps, you have come across this abbreviated form of the name many times. As "Long Island Iced Tea" is quite long and hard to say or type, people used LIT instead. 

And how much easier is it to slurringly order a LIT instead of a Long Island Iced Tea?!

Anyway, many expect LIIT to be the appropriate abbreviation of the term. While this seems to make a lot of sense, I want to explain why LIT is the more common version:

First, it's about ease of use. LIT will easily be ordered as "Lit" whereas you might struggle to eloquently order a "LIIT". 

Second and more importantly, "Long Island" is technically one noun. So shortening the Term "Long Island Iced Tea" will naturally be shortened to LIT.

Long Island Ice Tea

Long Island Ice Tea

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



  • 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.
  • Stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  • Garnish with a slice of lemon


Serving: 5.5oz | Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.15g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 70.5mg | Sugar: 13.15g | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 0.12mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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