Hey, New York: Tennessee Claims It Invented the Long Island Iced Tea
Here are the two competing legends about who invented this iconic cocktail.
Pay attention New Yorkers, because you’re about to get seriously upset: Some people are actually claiming that the Long Island Iced Tea—that super strong combination of vodka, rum, tequila, and gin—was invented somewhere other than Long Island, New York. Wild, I know. But there actually might be some truth to the claim.
The city of Kingsport, Tennessee is now claiming that the iconic cocktail actually originates there. According to legend, the drink came about on an island on the Holston River in Kingsport called, of course, Long Island. Charlie 'Old Man’ Bishop, an illegal alcohol distiller at the time, was the first to mix it, according to a report from ABC News.
So why are the claims only coming to light now? In a tourism video for Kingsport an actor portraying Charlie Bishop’s son, Ransom, recounts the history of the drink, saying that his father used to make “special batches” of a cocktail using the ingredients that would eventually come to be known as Long Island Iced Tea. Apparently, he also updated the recipe in the 1940s, so that it included soda and lemon and lime juices.
When New York's Discover Long Island tourism agency caught wind of the video, though, the feud between the two states was born. The agency’s director of communications, Maggie Lacasse, told ABC News that according to yet another legend, Robert "Rosebud" Butt invented the cocktail on Long Island, decades later, in the 1970s.
Here’s where things get complicated: Lacasse doesn’t deny that Charlie Bishop mixed up all those liquors to create a drink that would knock your socks off. She’s just denying that what he created is a true Long Island Iced Tea, which traditionally contains triple sec.
The dispute could come to a peaceful resolution, though: Bartenders from Long Island, New York have challenged the Visit Kingsport crew to a friendly competition to find out once and for all who makes the best Long Island Iced Tea.
So does can Tennessee rightfully claim to have invented the Long Island Iced Tea? Try one in both places and decide for yourself.