The Difference Between Long Island Iced Tea And Tokyo Tea

If you completed undergrad, then there's a good chance that you and the humble-yet-fearsome workhorse that is Long Island Iced Tea have been acquainted. If you haven't met before, you're missing out (but also consider yourself lucky ... it's complicated). Despite its namesake, the Long Island Iced Tea contains zero actual tea, and is essentially the ultimate jungle juice. It's a formidable combination of vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec, gin, sweet and sour mix, and cola. 

Now, allow us to introduce you to the Tokyo Tea: Long Island Iced Tea's younger brother, with a Limp Bizkit t-shirt and a retired affinity for hotwiring cars who cleaned up a little, went to college, and figured it out. That being said, as Tokyo Tea will be glad to tell you, "refined" doesn't mean "boring." The key difference between the cocktails is Tokyo Tea substitutes lemon-lime soda for cola, and adds melon liqueur.

The melon liqueur creates a neon green color and a citrusy sweet-tartness that makes this surprisingly refreshing cocktail go down easy. Traditionally, Tokyo Tea is made with Midori — a Japanese brand of muskmelon liqueur — and the inspiration behind the "Tokyo" in the cocktail's name ("Midori" is Japanese for "green."). 

As you might expect from an elevated-utilitarian cocktail like this one, the ingredients aren't super rigid. DeKuyper also makes a great melon schnapps that might be a little easier to track down, and some recipes suggest using club soda instead of lemon-lime soda.

Put the melon in the jungle juice and shake it all up

To make a Tokyo Tea, start with all the same ingredients and measurements as a Long Island Iced Tea, plus ½-ounce of melon liqueur and club soda, or lemon-lemon soda instead of cola. Everything gets stirred in the glass over ice, then a splash of soda gets poured on top. 

That's it. No shaker to wash. Alternatively, some bartenders prefer to dump all the spirits and sour mix in a shaker over ice and blitz away, then pour into the glass and top with the soda. Different strokes for different folks — it's really up to your preference.

Taking your Tokyo Tea to the next level, you could also stir in a dollop of citron tea marmalade. It's a Korean honey-yuzu preserve that'll add an element of sweet tartness and make this boozy cocktail's flavor profile more dimensional. If you're feeling like a loose cannon, take it up another notch and make your own sour mix. To serve, garnish with a lemon wheel and a deep purple Luxardo cherry skewer. You could also garnish with a few fresh pineapple chunks or mandarin orange slices.

Tokyo Teas are typically served in a Collins or Highball glass, but if you want to take it slow with this heavy-hitter (roughly 16% ABV, the same punch as three-ish beers), you could portion 'em off into smaller rocks glasses for paced sipping.