Long Island Ice Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

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 order at your local chain restaurant.

To make the Long Island Iced Tea, or LIT as it’s sometimes called, is not very hard. The main things to consider are pretty much the same as for numerous other cocktails. 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 this classic cocktail at home.

History of the Long Island Iced Tea

The origin of the Long Island Iced Tea most likely lies in Kingsport, Tennessee. It was here 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 times of 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.

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 the recipe to get an impression 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 slightly better-balanced. But it is still almost as potent as in the traditional cocktail recipe.

How to make a great Long Island Iced Tea

I mentioned this often 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. Also, no cheap liquor, and making sure to use a quality Cointreau.

Using fresh citrus will create a zesty, tangy, and crisper drink without the additional sweetening. A kick this cocktail needs in order to balance the alcohol. And again, using high-quality liquor will make this drink a lot better. One of the biggest problems of overly sweet LIT’s 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.

And for the Triple Sec, I also recommend using a decent quality. My choice is Cointreau, an ingredient I use in many recipes, and my first choice of Triple Sec. If you keep these recommendations in mind, your Long Island Iced Tea will be as good as never before.

Famous LIT Variations

Long Island Iced Tea is a drink with countless variations. In fact, there are so many that it is extremely hard to keep track of all of them. That’s also the reason why I decided to devote a separate article to this topic. However, here’s a short list of Long Island Iced Tea variations to give a quick impression of this topic:

– Long Beach Iced Tea: Replace cola with cranberry juice.

– Tokyo Iced Tea: Replace triple sec with Midori melon liqueur and cola 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 came 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?! 😉

However, 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 find out how to 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
Servings: 1
Cost: $3


  • 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
  • Top with Cola


  • Fill a Highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add all ingredients to the glass.
  • Stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  • Garnish with a slice of lemon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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