Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea! Served in a pitcher, this is the ultimate party cocktail. Made with tequila, rum, vodka, gin, and triple sec. It packs a punch!

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Let’s clarify one thing I wish I had known when I was younger: there is no iced tea anywhere in the Long Island Iced Tea. It is simply the color of iced tea.

This is critical knowledge to have if you plan to drink one. Or three. Because not knowing this will get you in a whole heap of trouble.

The Long Island Iced Tea is a curious cocktail. Theoretically, it shouldn’t taste all that good considering how many different liquors are being mixed together.

Yet, it works!

Long Island Iced TeaThe triple sec (an orange-flavored liqueur), lemon juice, and cola bind everything just perfectly.

This cocktail is an easy one to throw together in a big pitcher for a party. I wait until just before the guests arrive, then mix everything together in a bowl with ice. Strain it into a pitcher and serve!

The step of mixing with the ice helps to quickly chill the drink and adds just the right amount of dilution to the finished cocktail.

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 to 12 cocktails

You can buy prepared simple syrup for this recipe, or make it yourself! Combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat (1/2 cup of each will make a good amount). Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and refrigerate; it will keep for several weeks.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup tequila blanco (silver, blanco, or white)
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup gin
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup (see Recipe Note)
  • 1 1/2 cups cola soda
  • Halved lemon slices for garnish

Method

1 Mix and chill: Fill a large bowl with ice. Add the tequila, rum, vodka, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup and stir until the mixture is well-chilled.

2 Strain the mixture into a pitcher and add the cola. Finish with a quick, short stir.

3 Serve: Pour individual drinks into highball or hurricane glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wedges. Feel free to top off with a splash of cola, if desired. Serve.

Variations:

Texas Tea: Add 1/2 cup of your favorite bourbon whiskey to the recipe. (Strangely, one would think this would make it a Kentucky Tea?) Best sipped outside while doing absolutely nothing.

Long Beach Tea: Substitute cranberry juice for the cola for a fruitier and more intensely tart version of this cocktail. A novel option for backyard cookouts.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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3 Comments

  1. Chris

    don’t forget the electric lemonade that’s made with blue curacao instead of triple sec (the taste is exactly the same but the bright blue color is nice). a perfectly made long island really does taste like tea and should never taste of alcohol, unless you’re planning on it being an early night. i don’t chill mine, i just build them over ice and give it a shake at the end to mix everything before the shot of cola. be very wary about making them by the pitcher, it’s easy for the servings (and thus your gathering) to get out of hand.

    enjoy!

  2. Elise Bauer

    The first time I had a Long Island iced tea I was living in Boston, right out of college. I was at a bar, totally clueless about cocktails, and someone asked if I wanted a Long Island iced tea. “Sure!” I had no idea what made an iced tea from Long Island special, but whatever, I was game.

    Oh, it was so good. It didn’t taste anything like iced tea though. Nor did it taste of alcohol. I seriously thought it was just a different kind of iced tea.

    This was a problem. Being the lightweight I was, I could barely stand up from my chair after drinking that “iced tea”. LOL

    Now that I’m older and a tiny bit wiser, I know better. It is a terribly delicious drink, and wonderfully refreshing. Thanks Garrett for reviving these memories. It was a pleasure to make and drink these with you!

  3. Aretha

    Perfect timing for my barbecue this weekend!!! I appreciate the variations of the recipe also. A million thanks.

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