Long Island iced tea

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a mixed drink of tequila, rum, vodka, gin, curaçao, cola, lemon juice, and sugar.
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Origin of Long Island iced tea

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does Long Island Iced Tea mean?

Commonly shortened to Long Island and sometimes LIIT, the mixed alcoholic drink officially calls for gin, tequila, vodka, white rum, triple sec, Gomme sugar syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of cola.

Where does Long Island Iced Tea come from?

Like so many things associated with the drink, the origin of the Long Island Iced Tea is a bit hazy.

A bartender named Bob “Rosebud” Butt is usually credited with inventing the Long Island Iced Tea in 1972. As the story goes, Butt was working in a bar in Long Island, New York when a friendly competition compelled him to concoct the refreshing but strong iced-tea-colored beverage, hence the name.

In 2013, PBS even featured Butt on its video series Inventors for his contributions to society.

In the 2000s, however, the Kingsport, Tennessee tourism board claimed that the Long Island Iced Tea was created prior to Prohibition in that city’s Long Island by a bartender named “Old Man” Bishop. The Kingsport version of the drink swaps out whiskey for Triple Sec and maple syrup for the cola.

Butt owned www.longislandiced-tea.com for a time, where he disputed the Old Man Bishop story as a “myth.”

The Long Island Iced Tea was already famous (or perhaps infamous) by the 1980s. In a 1984 novel, one character offers another glass of the drink, but with a warning. A 1986 Cosmopolitan article noted that the Long Island Iced Tea was one of the most popular drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe.

In May, 2018, a group of New York bartenders challenged Kingsport bartenders to a Long Island Iced Tea contest.

How is Long Island Iced Tea used in real life?

With the number of different liquors in a Long Island Iced Tea, it has earned a reputation as one of the most potent drinks—it goes down easy, taking the drinker with it. The New York Post called it a “hangover in a glass” in 2015. None of this, though, has stopped it from being a popular choice, especially on vacations and in the summer.

Bartenders have invented a number of variations on the Long Island Iced Tea named for different locations, including Texas Tea, Tokyo Tea, and the Miami Iced Tea.


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.