Long Island Iced Tea drink on wood table with black background

Long Island Iced Tea

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 22, 2022 

First published on September 18, 2021 

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, 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.

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.

Making this cocktail 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.

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to Make | Variations | LIT or LIIT | History

Ingredients

I can't emphasize it enough. 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 covered up by sugar and citrus. So, to make an authentic, delicious Long Island Iced Tea, you 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 Jose Cuervo
  • 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 Beefeater.
  • Triple Sec: our go-to choice is Cointreau, an ingredient we use in many drink recipes and our favorite Triple Sec.
  • freshly squeezed 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. However, not the light or zero version because the artificial sweeteners lead to a very different taste. 

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

How to make it

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

  • Step 1: Fill the Highball glass with ice cubes. They don't have to be big but should be solid so as not to melt too fast. 
  • Step 2: Add all ingredients to the glass. -First, the spirits, then Triple Sec, syrup and lemon, and finally, the coke.
  • Step 3: Stir gently with your bar spoon to mix the ingredients. 5 to 10 rounds are enough.
  • Step 4: Garnish with a slice of lemon and enjoy.

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 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.

LIT or LIIT?

Perhaps, you use the abbreviated form of the name since "Long Island Iced Tea" is quite long and hard to say or type. 

Even though LIIT seems to be the correct abbreviation, 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 accurate.

a glass of Long Island Iced Tea with lemon wedge on wooden table

History of the Long Island Iced Tea

The origin of the Long Island Iced Tea most likely lies in Kingsport, Tennessee. 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. The cocktail was supposed to look like a regular serve of Iced Tea and not like a boozy afternoon drink, hence the name.

Tow serves Long Island Iced Tea with lemon & straw

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.

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

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Nutrition

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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