Perhaps one of the most famous cocktails (or infamous cocktails, depending on how you look at it) in recent history, the Long Island Iced Tea is a real doozy in terms of alcohol content. This isn’t typically the kind of mixed drink we feature on our blog, but let’s be honest: This curious cocktail is POPULAR.

A fun summer drink with 5 types of alcohol

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History of the Long Island Iced Tea

Like most cocktail origin stories, this alcoholic drink has varying stories about its creation. The first widely-accepted theory is that this super strong cocktail actually began as the Old Man Bishop, a bourbon-focused drink from the Prohibition era.

You’ll notice that the modern version does not include any bourbon, however. This version is generally credited to Robert Butt, a New York bartender who supposedly submitted it to a triple sec cocktail contest in 1972.


Bartender drinking a finished cocktail with a complex flavor profile

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Long Island Iced Tea Ingredients

There’s a lot going on in this complicated drink. It features a total of 2 1/2 ounces of alcohol and features 5 different distilled spirits, and it has all but two liquor ingredients — lemon juice and a splash of cola being the things that offset the pure alcohol concentration.

This “college students’ cocktail of choice” is kind of known for using cheap liquor, which doesn’t help the hangover (or your ability to avoid bad decisions) when you’re already mixing 5 various types of booze.

While you don’t have to use super high-end spirits, we do recommend using slightly higher-end spirits so the quality of this intense drink is little better, especially when you have such a vast combo of liquors.

Now, we’ve seen this recipe use up to a full ounce of liquor per type, which would make this drink FIVE ounces of liquor. Holy moly. Whether you go big or not, here are the basic ingredients for this bizarrely beloved drink:


different types of liquor in a shop Photo via unsplash

Photo via


Note that the brown color of this potentially dangerous cocktail comes from the splash of Coke, considering that there isn’t a single brown spirit in the list! This drink may not taste like actual iced tea, but it really does share its signature color. Just don’t mix them up on the table if the two drinks are near each other!

(True story: I once order an iced tea at a bar, and the bartender thought I meant a Long Island Iced Tea. Whoops.)


easy drinking cocktail the color of tea from 1 fluid ounce Cola by elissa landry via unsplash

Photo by Elissa Landry via


How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea

Despite all those ingredients, this isn’t a difficult drink to make. Simply combine all the ingredients except the soda in your cocktail glass and stir with a bar spoon, topping with Cola at the end. Check out the video to see how Chris makes this classic recipe!



Long Island Iced Tea Variations

  • As mentioned, you could make the older version, which includes bourbon, lemon and lime juice, and maple syrup– Watch the video above to see how Chris makes it and to get the recipe.
  • If you want to simmer down the alcohol taste from 5 different types of liquor in this classic cocktail, add more soda or fresh lemon juice for more citrus flavor, or reduce the ounces of liquor per type/shot. (For example, instead of 1/2 ounce of each base spirit, reduce to 1/4 ounce each.)
  • I can’t imagine that you’d want to make this drink stronger than it already is, but you could reduce the Cola if so desired. You can also replace the Cola with your favorite soft drink or even juice, which will, of course, really change the flavor.
  • Speaking of juice, you can keep the soft drink but add a splash of pineapple juice or any number of other complimentary juices for more of a sweet flavor.
  • Mix up the base spirits! For example, switch in mezcal for tequila Blanco or dark rum rather than white rum.
  • Traditionally, this popular cocktail isn’t made with simple syrup, although we did add it to our recipe. You can eliminate the syrup completely or add up to 1 ounce simple syrup if you want to add even more sweet flavor to a bunch of spirits.
  • While the classic garnish is a lemon slice, you can garnish with a fresh mint sprig instead to give this boozy cocktail an herbal, fresh quality. Or get creative and add a fun garnish like edible flowers!
  • Now, you know we aren’t fans of sweet and sour mix here, but some recipes include this instead of fresh lemon juice.
  • And finally… alternative versions of this cocktail include Tokyo Tea and AMF (which stands for a non-family-friendly cocktail name).


Bartender holding an excellent drink perfect for a hot day

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OK, ready to make this infamous drink? Set your car keys aside for the night, get ready to raid your liquor cabinet, and grab the recipe below!

Long Island Iced Tea with 1/2 ounce tequila and 1/2 ounce gin

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

A favorite summer cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea combines five different spirits.
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  • 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz White Rum
  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Cola to top


  • Add all ingredients except soda to a tall glass without ice (generally a pint glass or highball cocktail glass), and gently stir.
  • Add ice, and stir again.
  • Top with Cola.
  • Garnish with lemon wedge.