Since the legendary Long Island Iced Tea cocktail has so many ingredients, it is usually ordered out at bars. However, there is nothing exotic about the ingredients and you don’t even need to buy expensive liquors. In fact, I would advise against using anything “top shelf” as the distinctions will be lost in the drink, as in anything with over three liquors in it! Of course, you don’t want to go too cheap, so I’ll make some suggestions in the recipe.
All the liquors should be clear colored. However, you should keep in mind that if you want to make a variety of different cocktails, both highly flavored and simple, and you don’t want to have two of everything, it is best to stick with more premium brands, which will be more versatile. If you do use premium brands, it will probably be an awesome drink, don’t get me wrong, you just won’t taste the flavor nuances of the better spirits. Whatever liquors you choose, it is easy to shake one up at home.
Do You Shake a Long Island Iced Tea?
Yes, you will need to shake it if you want it to taste right. Most recipes on the internet just have you mix it all together in a glass, but while this is appropriate for a Martini, it is better to shake a drink like this. Just make sure not to add the Coca-Cola or another cola until the end, after the rest of the ingredients have been shaken.
And, for convenience, you might want a jigger. A jigger is a small measuring cup of a specific capacity. Cocktail shaker and jigger sets are available such as this Makur Shaker Set which comes with a double jigger, mixing spoon, and muddler. The jigger is 1 oz on one side and 1/2 oz on the other side.
Shaking is important to many cocktails. For example, if you want to make a perfect margarita, you’ll have to shake it. Stirring is just not going to do.
Does It Contain Loads of Alcohol?
Before we get to the recipe, let’s dispense a little smear that has long been attached to this popular happy hour drink: It has tons of alcohol and will knock you on your derriere. A well-made Long Island Iced Tea has 2 1/2 ounces of alcohol in it from liquors and triple sec. That’s pretty much the same as many other cocktails. The problem is that many inexperienced bartenders put a full ounce of each of the spirits in a glass and just top it with a little cola, ending up with 5 ounces of liquor in a nasty drink. The other thing, and you will see this in many recipes on the web, is the use of sour mix. You don’t need it. Stick with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup so you can control the balance.
Long Island Iced Tea Recipe
1/2 oz vodka (Svedka, Smirnoff, Skyy 1)
1/2 oz gin (Beefeater, Bombay Dry, Tanqueray 2)
1/2 oz tequila (just use white, blanco, or silver – Jose Cuervo, Sauza, El Jimador, Juarez)
1/2 oz light rum (light, white, or silver – Barcardi Light, Castillo White)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz triple sec (generic “triple secs” or “orange liqueurs” are often completely unpalatable. Go with Cointreau 3Don’t be fooled by the word “Curacao.” This has become a generic term for orange liqueur. Cointreau is more expensive than the many brands of generic orange liqueurs, triple secs, or curacao, but it won’t break the bank and you’ll be able to use it for other things, like a great Margarita. Grand Marnier, the favorite of bartenders, would be a bit extravagant for this recipe.)
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz Coca-Cola (you can also make it with Pepsi or any othe cola you choose)
Lemon wedge for garnish, if desired
Fill the shaker about half to 3/4 full with ice. Small piece or cubes of ice work best. Mix together the vodka, gin, tequila, rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Do NOT add the Coca-Cola! Pour the mixture into the shaker put on the top, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins or Highball glass or other tall glass (8-10 oz) filled with ice, and top with the Coke until full. Stir gently and garnish the rim of the glass with the lemon wedge.
After making your first Long Island Iced Tea, you can experiment to get the recipe just right for you. Some people like to use a mixture of juices like lemon, lime, and orange. Some people like to add a bit more vodka to give it more punch. Make it the way you like the best!
This article contains one or more Amazon affiliate links. See full disclosure.
- There are other inexpensive but pretty good vodkas you could use, but examples of premium vodkas that would be wasted in a cola based cocktail are Grey Goose, Absolut, or Stoli.
- These are medium priced gins but lower priced gins at around 10 bucks may be a bit nasty. At the same time, these may not be your Martini gins, which might run $30 dollars and over