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The thought of tea + alcohol might bring back fuzzy memories of drunken college parties and debaucherous spring breaks with an old friend, Long Island Iced Tea.  Not being a fan of this “friend”, I was never interested in the contents of this drink.  However, as this blog is about tea and inspiration, and I have explored specific teas and its health benefits, as well as recipes with tea, and tea houses/cafes in NYC, I cannot in good conscience ignore cocktails inspired by tea.

Back to the Long Island Iced Tea, I started by seeking out the origin of this drink.  There are contradicting stories about where and who invented this drink.  The most popular ones being:

“Some claim that the drink, like most cocktails, was invented during the Prohibition era, as a way of taking the appearance of a non-alcoholic drink (iced tea).  A lemon slice is often added to enhance this resemblance. (Source)

“Long Island Iced Tea isn’t from New York at all. It first surfaced in the 1920’s in a community called Long Island in Kingsport Tennessee.  The inventor of it was Old Man Bishop. He passed the recipe on to his son Ransom – who perfected the drink in the 1940’s. This is a fact.” (Source)

“The generally accepted theory is the story about a bartender, either Chris Bendicksen or Robert Butt (depending on your source) who invented the cocktail at the Oak Beach Inn (either OBI South or OBI East, again depending on the source) on Long Island, New York” (Source)

Who deserves the credit?  We will never know…

Even the recipe of this drink leaves a lot for interpretation.  According to Wikipedia, there are multiple recipes for this drink, but a popular version calls for equal parts vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec and 1.5 parts sour mix and a splash of cola.  Let’s back up and look at this recipe again… what??  No TEA?  I feel cheated.  In my next post, I plan on exploring cocktails that actually contain tea or elements of tea (besides the word “tea” being in the name of the cocktail).