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Food - Drink
Who's To Blame (Or Thank) For Inventing The Long Island Iced Tea?
With an ingredient list including gin, rum, tequila, vodka, triple sec, and a splash of lemon juice and cola, you might wonder how Long Island iced tea got its name without incorporating any iced tea. To create even more confusion, the “Long Island” in the name refers to two different places depending on who you ask, so who gets credit for this incredibly boozy drink?
Bartender Bob Butt would have you believe that Long Island iced tea refers to the island off of New York. Butt claims he invented the drink at the Long Island establishment the Oak Beach Inn after a customer challenged the bartenders to create a drink with Triple Sec. Butt’s drink won, with a combination of triple sec, gin, rum, and tequila along with a dash of cola for color.
Butt’s story leaves lingering questions, like why the caramel color of cola was so important unless he wanted his drink to resemble iced tea, and subsequently, why it was so important the cocktail looked like iced tea. This leads to the other Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee, where a popular Prohibition-era cocktail disguised itself as an inconspicuous soft drink.
In the 1920s during Prohibition, Kingsport local Charlie Bishop began mixing rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey, and gin, with a splash of maple syrup to disguise the beverage as a soda. There’s no doubt that Bishop’s drink came first, but notably, it uses whiskey instead of triple sec, suggesting that these two Long Island iced teas are, in fact, unique from each other.