Are Long Island Iced Teas Really That Bad?

Photographed by Phoebe Chuason.
When's the last time you ordered a Long Island Iced Tea? We'd be seriously hard pressed to remember any specific occasion when we slugged down one of these potent cocktails. Partially because it may have never happened in the first place — but mainly because if it did, we don't actually remember it (due to aforementioned potency). Let's face it, the drink doesn't have the best reputation. It's known for being a mismatched trash-hodgepodge of liquors, soda, and citrus with some legendary hangover aftermath attached. But is the L.I.I.T. (yes, it's lit) really that bad? Because after all, someone took the time to invent this boozy beverage — and clearly people are still ordering the damn thing. So maybe we've been missing out on something summery and splendid this whole time? Let's take a closer look.
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According to Thrillist, the invention of the first Long Island Iced Tea is pretty murky and stems all the way back from the 1920s prohibition era (pretty cool, no?), into a 1960s Betty Crocker Cookbook, and all the way up to a 1970s drinking contest invention by Robert Butt (lol). The drink is made up of equal parts vodka, tequila, light rum, and gin, finished with a dash of Coca-Cola (or Pepsi) and a twist of lime or lemon. Usually served over crushed ice and out of a highball glass, it's a sight to behold; like a warm summer sunset.
The taste? Well, when made with the right proportions, it's surprisingly (and strangely) refreshing — like a powerful sweet tea. If you're looking to get fancier, you can always add in a dash of Triple Sec or even a bit of sweet and sour mix. You could also go for a Dark and Stormy vibe with a little ginger beer in place of the classic soda; the mixology world is your boozy oyster.
A defence of the drink, written by the New York Post, claims that the majority of negative responses to the cocktail have come from batches made with bottom of the barrel alcohol — and that when made with the good stuff, it's actually a damn good drink.
So here's to the Long Island Iced Tea! An outcast in the craft cocktail world that we may just make a case for this summer. It could be the OG summer drink after all. So check out a few recipes below, from classic to quirky, and let us know what you think — maybe it's time we all get L.I.I.T.