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.
Why Long Island Iced Tea Is So Good
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!
The triple sec (an orange-flavored liqueur), lemon juice, and cola bind everything just perfectly.
How To Serve Long Island Iced Tea
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.
Ingredients in Long Island Iced Tea
When there are equal parts of five liquors in a cocktail, one liquor should not overpower any of the others. The goal is to achieve balance in the cocktail—even one that packs as much of a punch as the Long Island Iced Tea. To do that, you'll need quality spirits, but not necessarily high-end spirits.
Top shelf bottles, or small-batch artisanal spirits from the local distillery, can be used in this recipe, but their nuances will get lost in the mix. The LIT—as a bar server would call it—is perfectly happy with the tried and true middle shelf brands of these spirits. (Your pocketbook will be, too.)
- Tequila: Tequila Blanco is an unaged tequila that's also known as silver or white tequila. Espolòn Tequila Blanco and El Jimador Silver Tequila are quality value rums that will work well in an LIT.
- Rum: Captain Morgan White Rum or Bacardi White Rum work really well in a Long Island Iced Tea. They're good rums that don't break the bank.
- Vodka: An LIT doesn't need your favorite vodka, just a well-made vodka, like Tito's Handmade Vodka or New Amsterdam Vodka.
- Gin: Standards such as Beefeaters or Tangueray are perfect for Long Island Iced Tea, as is New Amsterdam Gin.
- Triple Sec: Triple Sec is a sweet, orange flavored liqueur. Cointreau is one brand of well-known triple sec, but feel confident using one that has a lower price tag such as DeKuyper. If Grand Marnier is all you have in your liquor cabinet, it's a fine alternative even though it's a blend of cognac and triple sec, not straight triple sec.
How to Make a Single Serving of Long Island Iced Tea
This super-sized cocktail recipe serves 8 to 12 people. If one cocktail is all you want, use 1 tablespoon each of tequila, rum, vodka, gin, and triple sec; 1 1/2 tablespoons each of lemon juice and simple syrup; and about 3 tablespoons of cola.
Make Ahead Tips
Mix the liquors, lemon, and simple syrup from the Long Island Iced Tea ingredients in advance. Right before serving, add the cola and the ice. If you add the cola too soon, it will go flat.
Variations on Long Island Iced Tea
Texas Tea: Add 1/2 cup of your favorite bourbon. (one would think this would make it a Kentucky tea,) It's 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. It's a novel option for backyard cookouts.
More Cocktail Recipes to Try!
Long Island Iced Tea
You can buy prepared simple syrup for this recipe, or <a href="https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_simple_syrup/">make it yourself</a>!
- 1/2 cup tequila (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
- 1 1/2 cups cola
- Halved lemon slices, for garnish
Mix everything but the cola 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.
Strain the mixture into a pitcher and add the cola:
Finish with a quick, short stir.
Pour individual drinks into highball or hurricane glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lemon wedges. Feel free to top off with an additional splash of cola, if desired.