long island iced tea

The Long Island Iced Tea has long been considered the type of drink perfect for college students or young adults to order at a bar — it’s strong (so you don’t need many to feel the alcohol’s affects), but the flavor of the alcohol is almost indiscernible. In fact, recipe developer Michelle McGlinn considers the Long Island Iced Tea to be a "fun summer drink," and she herself has many fond memories of sipping on the libation when she was in college. "Long Islands were a favorite of ours in college. We had one bar that called them ‘Texas Teas’ and served them in mason jars. Something about that was so fun and endearing," she recalls.

For the most part, McGlinn sticks to the classic recipe for her Long Island Iced Tea. She does like to use honey, though, despite it not being typically used in the drink. As she explains, she feels this sweetener "amplif[ies] the tea effect." Also, she notes how easy it is to drink a little too much. "You can’t taste the alcohol at all, no matter how sensitive you are to any of the spirits used — the cola and lemon cover the taste completely, making these dangerously delicious. Enjoy very responsibly!"

Gather the ingredients to make a Long Island Iced Tea

long island iced tea ingredients

The Long Island Iced Tea, as any bartender can tell you, is made with all of the clear bottles on the bar rail: vodka, light rum, gin, and tequila. It’s also got a little triple sec to give it some sweetness. While you can use high-end spirits if you like, the beauty of the LIIT is that it pretty much tastes the same when it’s made from bottom-shelf booze.

In addition to the alcohol, this recipe also contains honey, lemon juice, and a splash of cola. You’ll also need some ice cubes to chill the drink and mint sprigs and lemon slices for garnish, if desired.

Prep and combine the ingredients

prepping long island iced tea

Although Long Island Iced Teas made in bars often include bottled sour mix, here fresh lemon juice (plus honey) takes the place of this. Slice and squeeze a lemon and measure out 2 tablespoons (1 ounce). You can also cut a few slices of lemon to use as a garnish.

Measure out all of the different alcohols and add them to a cocktail shaker (or a lidded jar). You won’t need a jigger to do this since, as it just so happens, ½ ounce = 1 tablespoon. Add the honey and lemon juice, as well. Stir these ingredients to combine, then add a few ice cubes.

Shake the Long Island Iced Tea

cocktail shaker being shaken

With all the ingredients added to a shaker (or a lidded jar), stir them to combine, then put the lid on your implement and shake the drink with the ice for about 15 seconds in order to chill it.

Pour and garnish the drink

garnishing long island iced tea

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. You can use any glass you like for a Long Island Iced Tea as long as it’s big enough to hold ice cubes and at least 4 ounces of liquid. McGlinn likes to use Mason jars, calling them "fun and endearing" and saying they "look … like summer."

Strain the drink onto the fresh ice, then top it with a splash of cola. While the typical pour is 1 ounce (2 tablespoons), you can use more cola if you’d prefer a sweeter drink. Garnish the drink with lemon slices and mint to extend the iced tea theme. McGlinn says she also enjoys using fresh berries in a Long Island Iced Tea as they "make [the drink] feel fancy and give [it] a nice fruity flavor."