Long Island Iced Tea

With four spirits and one liqueur, the Long Island Iced Tea is not a cocktail for the faint of heart.

Long Island Iced Tea

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

Despite its name, the Long Island Iced Tea doesn’t actually have any tea in it. Rather, the notoriously high-ABV cocktail is named after its likeness to the non-alcoholic lunch-time sipper (iced tea, that is). Perhaps one of the strongest cocktails on a bar menu, the Long Island Iced Tea contains a whopping four spirits and one liqueur. The boozy drink gets topped with a splash of brown cola, darkening the cocktail enough to resemble amber-and-brown-hued iced tea. 

While this cocktail might be the cause of drunken college evenings and painful hungover mornings (and apologies, there’s no real cure for those), the cocktail can be really delicious if quality ingredients are used. Made with a combination of vodka, white rum, silver tequila, gin, triple sec (or orange liqueur), simple syrup, cola, and if you’re feeling fancy, some lemon juice, the Long Island Iced Tea is a potent cocktail filled with a range of flavors. The base of the spirits alone range from agave to potatoes, grains, and sugarcane, but the flavors blend in a mysteriously delicious way. The drink is lightly sweet with a gentle cola flavor, and with the addition of lemon juice, can have a nice balance of acid. Often served in a highball, or potentially more often a clear plastic cup and a straw, this cocktail benefits from a hefty serving of ice. 

Like many iconic cocktails, the Long Island Iced Tea has two dueling origin stories. The first takes place on Long Island in New York, the stretch of land that hugs the Connecticut shoreline. The cocktail is said to have been invented in 1971 by a Long Island-based bartender for a drinks competition. The other story dates back to Prohibition — a cocktail area known for notoriously high-proof drinks—where it was invented by residents in Kingston, Tennessee in a community called Long Island.

No matter its origins, this classic cocktail is one to remember — or, well, to at least try to remember. Add a big lemon wedge for some high-end flare and sip a Long Island Iced Tea with ease, and potentially some caution, too. Cheers!   


  • 1/2 ounce rum

  • 1/2 ounce vodka

  • 1/2 ounce tequila

  • 1/2 ounce gin

  • 1/2 ounce triple sec

  • 1 oz lemon juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 1 splash cola

  • 1 lemon wedge (for garnish)


  1. Add the first seven ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice.

  2. Top with cola, stir to combine, garnish with lemon wedge.

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