Long Island Iced Tea

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History of the Long Island Iced Tea

According to David Herpin

This drink is believed by scholars and non-scholars alike to be created by Robert "Rosebud" Butt at Hampton Bays Inn in Long Island in the 1970's. This is not true at all, early printings of this drink appear as early as:

New picture cook book by Betty Crocker in 1961

American home all-purpose cookbook by Virginia T. Habeeb in 1966

Punch: Volume 256 by Henry Mayhew, Mark Lemon, Tom Taylor in 1969

This drink has an overwhelming amount of variations which we will talk about individually later. The first of these variations is the culprit in the confusion behind this drink, it was the Texas Tea; which came about sometime after 1980 seeing as even in Texas it is still called a Long Island Iced Tea in 1978:

Texas Monthly - May 1978 - Page 2 Vol. 6, No. 6 "Fine happy hour Mon thru Fri 3-6:30 pm Try the Long Island Tea drink"

There also seems to be some confusion over the ingredients in this drink. By 1985, most of the country was still making Long Island Iced Tea's correctly as we see here:

Time: Volume 125, Issues 18-25 by Briton Hadden, Henry Robinson Luce in 1985 "Long Island Iced Tea (vodka, gin, tequila, rum and triple sec) are successful examples."

Here are a few examples a few years later showing the misunderstanding:

New York Magazine - Feb 8, 1988 - Page 40 Vol. 21, No. 6 "Long Island iced tea (rum, tequila, vodka, and Triple Sec)"

Blithe spirits: a toast to the cocktail by Jill Spalding in 1988 "Long Island Iced Tea contains no tea, iced or otherwise. Also know as New York Iced Tea, it is made from equal parts of rum, vodka, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, orange juice, and a splash of cola"

Until recently, this was a Long Island Iced Tea to many and a Texas Tea was the addition of Tequila. Texas Tea does call for tequila, but gold tequila, because silver tequila should already be used. Here are some references regarding the vessel this drink is to be served in:

Fairplay: Volume 297 in 1986 "I have no wish to upset Mr Havens, the more so since he was kind enough to introduce my wife to the delights of Long Island Iced Tea, a wicked cocktail containing six explosive spirits served in a pint glass."

Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million by David Wise in 1996 "They're called Texas iced tea or Long Island iced tea in the US, They're served in a beer mug."

This drink dates between 1954 -1960 and originated in or near New York City, it originally contained as of then:

Shake these ingredients:



(Light) Rum

(Silver) Tequila

Triple Sec

Fresh Lemon Juice

Simple Syrup

Strain into a Pint or Beer Mug filled with crushed ice (Crushed ice is mentioned as early as, Thinking rich: a personal guide to luxury living by David Shilling in 1986)

Top with: Charged Coca-cola

Lemon Wedge Garnish

"If anyone is wondering, Long Island Iced Tea was created in the 70s by a bartender we called Rosebud (real name Robert Butt). He served it at the Oak Beach Inn in Hampton Bays, L.I. It was presented over ice in a tall slender iced tea glass with a twisted lemon peel and a straw. Rosebud always made sure it was fizzing when he served it. I remember having two there one night in 1974, and almost falling off the stool."

"An ounce of rum, an ounce of gin, an ounce of vodka, an ounce of tequila, a half-ounce of triple sec, a dash of lemon juice and a splash of Coke."

"Rosebud used Jamaican Rum. Never use white rum, as the rum is what gives the drink its color."

- Gail C,

I recently learned that T.G.I.Friday's lays claim to the Long Island Iced Tea, i.e. a local store general manager relayed this information to me, not sure what's thats worth. - Expert Master Mixologist David Herpin

Original Recipe

According to Gail C.

  • 1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum,
  • 1 oz Gin,
  • 1 oz Vodka,
  • 1 oz Tequila,
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec,
  • a dash of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • a splash of Coke."

Build over Ice, in an Iced Tea Glass. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.

Common Recipes

Recipe#1: Gary Regan

  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce tequila
  • 1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce white rum
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces cola
  • 1 lemon wedge, for garnish

Pour all of the ingredients into an ice-filled collins glass. Add the garnish.

Recipe#2: Dale DeGroff

  • 1/4 oz. Vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Gin
  • 1/4 oz. Rum
  • 1/4 oz. Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
  • Coca Cola

Combine all the ingredients except the Coca Cola and stir. Top with Coca Cola and serve and a collins glass. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Similar Historical Drinks


Sunrise Publications, Inc., Honolulu 1980, Pg. 19:

Iced Tea

  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rum
  • 2 Dashes Triple Sec
  • 2 Dashes Sweet Sour
  • 1 Dashes Roses Lime Juice
  • 2 Dashes Simple Syrup
  • Splash Coke

Pour into bucket glass with ice; top with a lemon twist.


by Inge Adolpho, Ala Hou Publishers, Honolulu, 1983.

Pg. 52:

Iced Tea

  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rum
  • 2 Dashes Triple Sec
  • 2 Dashes Sweet Sour
  • 2 Dashes Roses Lime Juice
  • 2 Dashes Simple Syrup

Pour into chimney glass and splash with coke.


by Tommy Murphy Greg Publishing Co., Rye Brook, NY 1986

"Tropical Iced Tea" on page 213 is made with vodka, gin, rum, Triple Sec, sweet and sour, lemon juice, and cola--ed.)

Variations on the Long Island Iced Tea

Texas Iced Tea

"I definitely served L.I.I.T.'s (and drank them) in Houston in the summer of 1980. At our restaurant we called them Texas Iced Tea, but when identifying them to customers we said they were our version of L.I.I.T. Ours was actually served in one of them big ole plastic iced tea glasses with fluting 2/3rds of the way up the glass and a smooth finish the rest of the way. It must have been a 20 oz. glass, with 10 ozs. of L.I.I.T. At lunch we had happy hour, 2 for 1. People would order L.I.I.T. and get 2 of those monsters. I don't know how they managed to walk out of the place, much less go back to work."

- Andrea Vine, 28 Jul 1999.

Other Variations

Long Beach Iced Tea: Simply a Long Island with cranberry juice instead of Coca-Cola. Named after the city of Long Beach, NY, (not Long Beach, CA, as many believe) which is on Long Island, and is where the drink was invented.

Adios Motherfucker: Also known as a "Code Blue" or "Blue Fucker" due to its azure hue, this concoction is topped with Sprite instead of Coca-Cola and utilizes blue curacao instead of triple sec.

Tokyo Tea: This libation uses the same liquors as the original Long Island, but is crowned with one-half to one full ounce of Midori instead of Coca-Cola. Also referred to as a "Three Mile Island."

California Iced Tea: Calls for Amaretto in place of tequila and triple sec and topped with equal parts cranberry and pineapple juices.

Hawaiian Iced Tea: Shuns tequila and triple sec in favor of a full ounce of Chambord, and is topped with Sprite instead of Coca-Cola.

Miami Iced Tea: Reflecting the tropical setting of its name, this fruitier tea shuns triple sec and tequila in favor of Midori and peach schnapps, and is topped with orange juice instead of Coca-Cola.

Caribbean Iced Tea: This recipe utilizes a full ounce of dark jamaican rum, usually Myer's, in place of tequila and vodka. Like the Long Island, it is topped with Coca-Cola.

Super Special LIT: Apart from the usual Gin, Vodka, Rum, Tequila, triple sec etc, it also includes a shot of Whiskey. The triple sec can also be substituted with Archer's Peach Schnapps.

Georgia Iced Tea: This drink calls for sweet tea and sugar in place of Coke, which is ironic since Coca Cola is headquartered in Atlanta.

Video Demonstrations on the Web


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