tea in glass with lemon

The Long Island iced tea is a cocktail with quite the reputation. Not necessarily a bad reputation, because it is a tasty and refreshing drink, especially when you follow this Long Island iced tea recipe laid out by chef and recipe developer Christina Musgrave of Tasting with Tina. It does, however, have the reputation of being, shall we say, a potentially risky drink? That’s a deserved title, and to understand why, you could simply take a look at the ingredient list: five of them are types of booze.

That said, when enjoyed one small sip at a time, the Long Island iced tea is a great drink that pairs well with various meals or apps. It is perhaps best paired with a long, lazy afternoon, during which you have very few responsibilities other than kicking back and relaxing. And maybe some light reading and hammock naps, too, but those aren’t really responsibilities, are they?

If Musgrave does have one pro-tip that upgrades this drink, it’s to not take the cheap route with the liquor. "My tip to make sure the drink turns out well is to use high-quality liquor brands," she says. "Although Long Island iced teas may get a bad reputation, they can actually be very delicious with good quality liquor." She’s right about that last part, but you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

Gather your ingredients for a classic Long Island iced tea

ingredients for long island iced tea

As noted, this cocktail consists mostly of, well, straight alcohol. The five different types of alcohol you’ll need, which are used in equal portions, are vodka, gin, white rum, white tequila, and triple sec (or Cointreau, which also works fine). You’ll also need some lemon juice, some cola, and some lemon wedges for serving. And some ice, if course.

"Surprisingly, the lemon juice is what brings all of the liquor together and gives this the ‘tea’ flavor," Musgrave explains of the "star" ingredient. Of course, this is ultimately a classic recipe, though the lemon does help add flavor to a drink that otherwise (shockingly!) doesn’t actually contain any tea.

Why is it called a Long Island iced tea?

finished cocktails in glasses

According to The Daily Meal, a bartender named Robert "Rosebud" Butt claims to have invented the Long Island iced tea, when he was working at a bar located in — you guessed it — Long Island, New York. Apparently, he made it as part of a contest to invent a new cocktail using triple sec, and, for better or for worse, he certainly succeeded!

Prepare the cocktail

the cocktail ready for cola and garnish

Before you start assembling the cocktail, it’s a good idea to measure out 1 ounce of each of the liquors. Once your ingredients are readied, fill a large cocktail shaker with ice. Then add that 1 ounce each of vodka, gin, white rum, white tequila, and triple sec, and also add an ounce of lemon juice to the shaker.

Shake these liquids and the ice vigorously for 30 seconds, then pour the cocktail and ice into two tall glasses. (You can also use new ice in the glasses and use the strainer attachment of your shaker.)

Garnish and serve the Long Island iced teas

iced tea with lemon wedge

Once you’ve poured the liquor concoction into each glass, top them off with cola. Then, garnish each cocktail with a lemon wedge, and voila. You have a boozy but refreshing Long Island iced tea, which Musgrave loves to sip "on a really hot day." We recommend sipping these slowly, and enjoy the surprising way that each type of liquor comes together to form something pretty darn tasty.