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Long Island Iced Tea

Last time I made one of these I was in college, got the most cost effective (cheapest) gin, rum, vodka, triple sec, and bottled sweet and sour, along with some Coke, to make one of the most vile drinks I have even had in my life. My brother will still rant about it to this day if I even bring up the topic

Is it possible to make a high quality version of this drink? Is it just a college drink to get wasted with

I never see it on a craft cocktail menu, but I would think with some deft hands this could be a delicious cocktail

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    1. IMHO, it is more about getting the ratios right than using top shelf booze.

      I would add, never use really good tequilia. The flavor is overpowering.

      It varies a little with what is in the speed rack (what your well booze is.)

      I was taught by Tony who learned it at one of the beach clubs in the 70's from one of the many people who claim to have invented it.

      Long Island Ice Tea
      2p Vodka
      2p Gin
      3p Rum
      1p Tequilia
      2p Triple Sec (or less -- depending on your booze)
      healthy splash sour

      Pour over ice, top with coke.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hambone

        Going back through the haze of time, this is how I recall it: It was invented at the Oak Beach Inn at Jones Beach, Long Island. There is a specific bartender who invented it, in a contest run by the owner, his prize was a flight to Florida using the owner's excess credit card points. One of the many legends surrounding Bobby the owner. He was a character of the highest degree, they don't make them like him anymore.

        The point of the contest was to use up the excess cases of triple sec that had accumulated in their storge room. I do not recall sour mix being involved at all, it was equal amounts of all the white liquors, triple sec, a splash of Coke and a slice of lemon squeezed on top. If made right, it tastes close enough to normal ice tea, but part of its charm to me is a reminder of those wild and crazy days partying at the OBI. Tastes like fun!

        1. re: coll

          I worked one summer at OBI East during the early-mid 80's. Those were pretty crazy days.

          1. re: JMF

            It personified the 1980s for sure. My husband put in the sound system so we were there a lot back then. Hard to describe unless you experienced it! I think the drink was invented in the early 70s? I know it was one of my first favorites, as soon as I turned 18.

            1. re: coll

              Had some great times at the OBI, I just don't remember them...driving with my cousin John in Uncle Pete's '71 Eldorado cruising at a comfortable 99 mph on Ocean Parkway....


              1. re: byrd

                Thanks for sharing, I know what you mean.

      2. You can certainly make a top shelf version of it. I would go with some fresh lime juice and simple syrup in place of the sour mix though. A friend of mine would use orange juice and a packet of sugar in place of it.

        I would definitely recommend Mount Gay Eclipse for the rum (smokey and aromatic, really really smooth), and probably Sobieski for the vodka (very good vodka for it's price).

        Probably go with Cointreau for the triple sec. Grand Marnier would probably be overkill because it's pretty syrupy, Cointreau is clear and much lighter.

        1. I gave making a Long Island Iced Tea at home a shot a while back for a lark, but with lemon juice and sugar instead of the sour mix. I'll be honest, it wasn't bad, but there was nothing great about it. It's the sort of thing I'd drink if there was nothing else available, but that I can't picture myself making again.

          I don't really think it has much going for it as a craft cocktail. Yes, there are a lot of good cocktails that are, at their base, [spirit] + [orange liqueur] + [citrus]. And yes if you look at how their flavors function, white rum and gin are very similar, and vodka and gin get swapped around a lot. But when you mix them together, you don't get layers of complexity, since, especially once you throw in tequila, the flavors just get muddied and lose their individual character.

          1 Reply
          1. re: A_Gonzalez

            I would leave the tequila out of it, just stick with the silver liquors - I always learned to make it without tequila

            Atomic76 I like all those ideas, maybe even 5 banks for the silver rum

            I always thought it was lemon and coke, not sour mix - always would make my own sour regardless

          2. Disclaimer: I don't recommend the effort.

            I had a guest who asked, in a succession, for an Alabama Slammer and LI Iced Tea.

            My made the LI Iced tea using Ramazzotti for the Coke flavor. I made the Alabama Slammer with Bourbon + Cherry Heering for the Southern Comfort (plus Luxardo Amaretto and Plymouth Sloe Gin. I made them both with fresh citrus.

            Both were hits with the guest. I sampled them with a sample straw and thought that they were drinkable, but not something I would choose for myself.

            www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

            1. There was a recent article about ordering Long Island's at craft bars: http://www.theawl.com/2013/05/classin...

              I think the point of the article is that even if you try to class it up, it's basically a drink designed to get you drunk that's never going to taste great

              Personally, if I wanted something in that vein, I would make a Fog Cutter or a Suffering Bastard.

              1. I first had this on the north shore of Antigua in 1980. An all you can eat and drink picnic. Lobster, fish, salad, and LI ice tea.

                It was effective. I have a picture of some 20 topless females ranging in age from 25 to 70. I never received a picture of us men.

                1. I'm implementing craft cocktail menus and advanced bar training in two bar/restaurants right now. Last Saturday night as we rolled out the start of the new menu a customer asked for a long island ice tea. I tried to get him to try one of our house cocktails to no avail.

                  When the bartender asked if he wanted rail or premium spirits he opted for premium across the board. So he got Padron, Tanqueray, Gray Goose, El Dorado 3 yr. white, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, and honey syrup; with just a splash of cola. He loved the drink, but almost had a heart attack when we charged $19 for it. I had a taste, and it was actually pretty good. The bartenders that I have been training, especially that one, have really stepped up their game and can make even a crappy drink come out pretty good.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: JMF

                    When you figure a Beefeater's martini goes for around $12 nowadays, $19 isn't bad considering all the spirits in it. Hmm, wonder if you could order a "deconstructed" LI tea for the same price.

                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      Well, I can't remember whether there was 1/2 oz. or 3/4 oz. of each spirit. I should sit down and figure the cost ratio on that. Maybe later today. A cocktail should be in the 12-22% bracket to be profitable, the lower % the better. (Cost of ingredients to selling price)

                      By the way, a Beefeater martini with 2 oz. gin and 3/4 oz. dry vermouth is barely profitable at $12.

                      What do you mean by a "deconstructed" LI ice tea?

                      1. re: JMF

                        One of the trends (pretentious, IMO) in food shows lately is "deconstructing" a dish. For example, deconstructing a BLT would be sort of a salad thing with toasted bread on the side and strips of bacon on top. You get the idea. The deconstructed LI Tea would be basically a shot of each in a shot glass with some coke on the side. It was a joke.
                        Google deconstructed food, you'll see lots of examples if you are really interested.

                        1. re: TroyTempest

                          As you say, good as a joke if nothing else!

                        2. re: JMF

                          JMF: How is it that a $12 Beefeater martini is just "barely" profitable?

                          According to a Google search, Beefeater costs around $35 for a 1.75L bottle. That's $0.59 an ounce. Or $1.20 for the drink.

                          A decent (not great) dry vermouth, e.g. Noilly Prat, costs around $9 for a 750mL bottle. (Again, per what I found on the Web.) That's $0.36 an ounce, or $0.27 for the drink.

                          Grand total, ingredients only == $1.40. And those are RETAIL prices. I assume a bar can get the same ingredients for much less. (I left out the garnish. Most bars aren't buying high-end olives!)

                          I don't know how you factor lease, labor, equipment and other costs into the equation, but it seems like a pretty good profit margin from this end...

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            DSP - I'm not sure how it is in privatized states, but here in NC bars actually pay an additional tax on top of the retail bottle price, $3.75 for a 750 and $8.75 for a 1.75.

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                              First, in NY state it can actually be cheaper to buy retail than the price a bar pays the distributor. There are delivery fees and bottle costs which can add huge amounts to the price. Let's look at the vastly over-priced gray Goose. In a liquor store you can get it for $39 a liter, but from a distributor $55+. Also you have to price on 750 or 1000 ml. bottles, not 175 ml.

                              So, using the cheaper rate of retail with a liter of Beefeater at $28 and a 375 of Noilly Prat vermouth ( many bars use the smaller sizes since they larger sizes go bad before being fully used) at $5.49, and Bitters at around $6.50 a bottle, and decent olives aren't cheap at around $6.49 a jar with 20 large olives. Sooo...

                              2 oz. of Beefeater = $1.68
                              3/4 oz. Noilly Prat dry Vermouth = $0.33
                              1 good quality Olive = $0.32
                              1 dash orange bitters = $0.04
                              Total = $2.37
                              So if the martini sells for $12 the ingredients price is at 19.75% of the sale price.

                              Cocktail pricing should have the ingredients at 12-22% of the final price. This takes in all the expenses for running a bar. If you are in an area with high rent and expenses, your cocktail pricing needs to be lower percentage wise, in a low expense area your pricing can be higher percentage wise. An average place should have cocktails selling in the 14-16% bracket.

                              So a Beefeater Martini at 19.75% is at the lower end of profit for a cocktail. At this rate if all cocktails were priced like that a bar can actually go broke.

                              If you were to price that martini at
                              13.94% it would cost $17
                              14.8% it would cost $16
                              15.8% it would cost $15

                              1. re: JMF

                                JMF, just out of curiosity, isn't it "illegal" for a restaurant to buy liquor retail in NY? Or was that just what the distributor wanted you to believe? I know you're not allowed to marry bottles, but my memory is hazy now on all the laws, despite the fact that purchasing liquor was my job. I'm guessing you would know the correct answer!

                                Looking at the price markup, it sounds to me like the distributors just want to share in the higher profits made on bar drinks, and they have a set percentage in mind, like any other type of purveyor. I didn't have to pay the bills so that didn't concern me in the least ;-)

                                1. re: coll

                                  I didn't say it was legal to for bars to buy retail, or that any bars I know do. As a matter of fact it is illegal for a bar to buy retail in NY. I just meant that retail prices are less, and that distributors really jack up the price for bars and restaurants. I used the retail price because it is was easier to look up pricing online, rather than having to get out my wholesale books and look stuff up.Those books are a pain to work with, and the prices change monthly. Using the distributor pricing makes the numbers come out even less profitable for the bar.

                                  1. re: JMF

                                    Good to know, I thought that was how it was but never knew, since most small places I know do buy retail regardless.

                                2. re: JMF

                                  Thanks for the interesting writeup. I never imagined that bars would have to pay more than retail for a bottle. Odd state of affairs.

                                  1. re: JMF

                                    I live in Austin, Tx, and it's hard for me to believe that a restaurant (or bar) isn't making a good profit on a $12 martini in this town.

                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                      You are confusing a Texas grapefruit with a New York City apple.

                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                          I think it was a creative way of saying "stop comparing apples and oranges."

                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            I didn't think i was. I was just stating where i was from, which I thought might be important, since i brought up the point in the first place.

                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                              Agreed. Not every market is NYC. But $12 is, in my experience, a pretty typical price for a basic Martini.

                          2. I added this to the menu at one of my cocktail parties:


                            I used the liquor we had on hand so all of it was decent. Only a couple people ordered them (b/c there were lots of more interesting things on the menu) but they liked them but no one raved or anything. I tried it and it was fine but not something I'd make again/for myself. I added it to the menu purely b/c I got a chuckle when I opened my Saveur and there was a recipe for a LI Iced Tea!

                            1. Anvil Bar & Refuge recently added an upscale LIIT to their menu (look for it in the "light and looooong" section of their menu): http://www.anvilhouston.com/index.php

                              1. IMO, don't waste high-end liquor on LIIT's.

                                Hambone's right about getting the ratios correct.

                                Well grade liquor, coke (adds sugar and color), and a healthy dose of lemon are pretty much all you really need to make a proper one.

                                Also nothing good ever comes from a night of drinking Long Island Iced Teas, absolutely nothing...

                                1. I don't have a recipe for you but I wanted to share a story involving Long Island iced tea.

                                  I used to work in the field (construction) and about once a month, my bosses from the office would request that I meet them for lunch. At the time, I'd be freaking out figuring that 1) I'd effed something up or 2) they were going to dump more work on me. We seemed to always be understaffed.

                                  Lunch would start with them ordering Long Islands and I'd order my usual ice water with lemon. I thought Long Island ice tea was simply a special flavor of tea. Regardless, by their third round of "tea" I would have no clue what the hell they were talking about! I would be completely lost trying to follow the conversation and what I was supposed to get out of it. I'd spend the rest of the day befuddled.

                                  Flash forward a few years, when my DS turned 21. He came home with a cardboard box loaded with booze. My comment and surprise was "You're taking this drinking age pretty seriously, aren't you?" (He's not much of a drinker) and he replied, "No, I want to make a Long Island iced tea!"

                                  OMG - secret of the "we need to do lunch!" revealed! The upper echelon simply wanted an excuse to drink the afternoon away and told the office they'd be "out in the field"!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    There is a little disconnect to this day, when ordering a Long Island Iced Tea, or a normal Iced Tea. The Long Island doesn't always register, even though I am ON Long Island!

                                  2. I will admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for these and will order them once in a blue moon. Nowadays I don't get into sweet drinks, and usually just drink straight rum on the rocks with just a splash of cola. But the overall flavor of a traditional Long Island does bring back memories.

                                    There were several variations on these I had heard about as well - one was called a Long Beach Iced Tea which used Cranberry juice in place of the cola, another one was called a Purple Rain and I think it had Chambord and 7UP in place of the cola and triple sec...