What Does Long Island Iced Tea Taste Like?

Long Island Iced Tea is a popular cocktail that has gained a reputation for its potent mix of ingredients and deceptive appearance. At first glance, it may look like a simple glass of iced tea, but in reality, it offers a unique blend of flavors that are sure to keep you coming back for more. This captivating drink, often served in a tall glass, is a delightful amalgamation of several spirits, which makes it surprisingly potent while maintaining a refreshing taste.

The taste of Long Island Iced Tea is indeed hard to describe with just one adjective. The harmonious mix of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec, combined with sour mix and cola, creates a complex flavor profile that can vary slightly depending on the proportions used. Some might describe its taste as sweet and sour with a subtle hint of alcohol, while others find it to be a balanced cocktail that perfectly conceals its strong alcohol content.

Key Takeaways

  • Long Island Iced Tea is a popular cocktail with a deceptive appearance and a unique blend of flavors.
  • The taste is a result of a mix of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, sour mix, and cola, making it both potent and enjoyable.
  • Descriptions of its taste vary, but it’s generally considered a balanced drink that hides its strong alcohol content well.
ginger ale cocktail recipe

What Is Long Island Iced Tea?

Cocktail Components

Long Island Iced Tea is a popular cocktail that you might have heard of or even tasted before. It’s a mix of several different types of spirits, including gin, vodka, tequila, rum, and triple sec. These are combined with sweet and sour mix, a splash of cola, and sometimes lemon or lime juice. When mixed together, the concoction creates a refreshing beverage that tastes somewhat like iced tea, hence the name.

Creation and History

The origins of Long Island Iced Tea can be traced back to Long Island in New York. It is widely believed to have been created by a bartender named Robert “Rosebud” Butt at the Oak Beach Inn during a cocktail-mixing contest in the 1970s. However, some claim that a similar cocktail was concocted during the Prohibition era by other creative bartenders who were experimenting with different ingredients.

Regardless of its precise origin, Long Island Iced Tea has gained popularity over the years and is now a staple at bars and social gatherings. Its strength and distinctive flavor have made it a favorite among those who like to indulge in a unique and satisfying cocktail.

Composition of Long Island Iced Tea

Main Spirits

Long Island Iced Tea is a popular alcoholic cocktail made from a combination of vodka, triple sec, tequila, gin, and light rum. The mixture of these various liquors creates a unique and potent flavor that has gained widespread popularity. The alcohol content in this drink is relatively high due to the inclusion of multiple spirits.

Additional Ingredients

Besides the main spirits, Long Island Iced Tea also contains cola, which is often used to balance the strong alcohol taste, giving the drink a refreshing and somewhat sweet flavor. Other ingredients that help in balancing the flavors are simple syrup, sour mix, or sweet and sour mix. Lemon juice is also added for a little tanginess.

For garnishing and adding a zing to this delicious concoction, a lemon slice or lemon wedge is often placed on the rim of the glass. Serving the cocktail over ice enhances its refreshing quality, making it an excellent choice for warm summer days.

Variations on the Recipe

There are several variations of Long Island Iced Tea, each with its own unique twist on this classic recipe. Here are some notable substitutes:

  • Long Beach Iced Tea: substitutes cranberry juice for the cola, giving it a fruity flavor.
  • Texas Tea: adds bourbon or whiskey to the mix, combining with the original spirits for a more robust taste.
  • Tokyo Iced Tea: replaces the triple sec with peach schnapps and the cola with lemon-lime soda, resulting in a fruity and fizzy drink.
  • Hawaiian Iced Tea: incorporates pineapple juice, adding a tropical flare to the traditional recipe.
  • Miami Iced Tea: swaps out the cola for lemon-lime soda and adds a splash of blue curaçao, creating a visually stunning and citrusy beverage.

The strength and alcohol content of these variations may differ from the original Long Island Iced Tea, but each still maintains the essence of the classic cocktail. By adjusting the proportions of the spirits, mixers, and garnishes, you can explore and create even more unique and enjoyable variations to suit your taste.

How to Make Long Island Iced Tea

Standard Procedure

To make a Long Island Iced Tea, you’ll need a cocktail shaker and a Collins glass, highball glass, or hurricane glass. Start by filling the cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Next, add the following ingredients:

  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) vodka
  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) gin
  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) white rum
  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) tequila
  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) triple sec
  • 0.75 oz (22 ml) lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz (15 ml) sugar syrup

Shake the contents of the cocktail shaker thoroughly. Next, fill your chosen glass with fresh ice, and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Top it off with cola, and garnish with a lemon wedge. Your Long Island Iced Tea is now ready to enjoy.

When preparing a Long Island Iced Tea at home or in a bar, you can also use a pitcher for larger batches. Just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you want, and mix everything together in the pitcher. Pour the mixture over ice in individual glasses, and serve with cola and a lemon wedge.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some serving suggestions to enhance your Long Island Iced Tea experience:

  • Glassware: Use a Collins glass, highball glass, or hurricane glass to serve your drink. These types of glasses are typically used for Long Island Iced Teas at bars and at home because their tall and narrow shape helps emphasize the layers of the drink.
  • Ice: Make sure to use fresh ice when mixing the cocktail and serving it. The use of fresh ice instead of melted ice will ensure that the drink doesn’t get diluted too quickly.
  • Garnish: A traditional garnish for Long Island Iced Tea is a lemon wedge. However, you can get creative and add other garnishes, such as an orange slice or a maraschino cherry, to give your drink a personalized touch.
  • Adjusting the sweetness: If you find the Long Island Iced Tea too sweet or not sweet enough for your taste, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar syrup or cola in the drink.

Remember, when enjoying this potent cocktail, please drink responsibly.

Understanding the Taste of Long Island Iced Tea

Flavor Profile

The taste of a Long Island Iced Tea is a delightful balance of sweet and tangy flavors, which makes it a popular choice among mixed drinks. It has a boozy taste due to the combination of various spirits, yet the sweet and sour components unify the flavors in harmony. The well-balanced blend contains a pleasant, but not overwhelming sweetness, with a gentle sour undertone that leaves you craving more.

As you sip the drink, you’ll experience the perfect melting pot of flavors that merge into a refreshing and invigorating taste, making it an excellent choice for a warm day or during a night out.

Related Beverages

The Long Island Iced Tea’s unique flavor profile can be compared to other famous mixed drinks such as:

  • Margarita: This classic tequila-based cocktail features a sour and sweet lime taste with the rim of the glass often coated in salt for added contrast.
  • Cosmo: A vodka-based drink, the Cosmopolitan is characterized by its tangy cranberry and lime flavors, often topped with a touch of orange from the triple sec ingredient.
  • Mint Julep: A bourbon-based drink, the Mint Julep’s refreshing combination of fresh mint and sweet simple syrup pleases the palate while cooling you down on a hot day.
  • White Russian: Comprised of vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream, this sweet cocktail has a smooth, creamy taste, making it a favorite among dessert drink enthusiasts.

When you explore different mixed drinks, you’ll notice that each possesses its unique blend of flavors. Long Island Iced Tea, like the beverages mentioned above, has something truly special that keeps enthusiasts coming back for more.

Appreciating Long Island Iced Tea


Long Island Iced Tea is a popular drink choice for various occasions, such as parties, lounges, and summer gatherings. Its refreshing taste makes it an ideal beverage for warm weather and outdoor events. While the blend of spirits and flavors may appeal to college students, it’s also a go-to option for many people looking to unwind and socialize.

  • Parties: The drink’s dynamic blend of ingredients makes it a fantastic choice for lively parties, where its strength adds excitement to the festivities.
  • Summer gatherings: Long Island Iced Tea’s refreshing taste makes it a great option for hot days, barbecues, and poolside sips.
  • Lounges: The drink’s sophistication and potency make it a staple in many lounges, where conversation and relaxation are key.

Safety Precautions

While Long Island Iced Tea can be a delicious and enjoyable beverage, its strength makes it particularly important to consume responsibly. Here are some safety tips for drinking this potent cocktail:

  1. Be aware of the alcohol content: This cocktail is more potent than many others due to its blend of spirits. Remember to drink slowly and moderately, especially if you’re not accustomed to its strength.
  2. Stay hydrated: As with any alcoholic beverage, it’s crucial to stay hydrated by drinking water alongside your Long Island Iced Tea.
  3. Know your limits: If you’re new to this drink, start with one and assess your tolerance. If you feel the effects more strongly, consider consuming less or switching to a weaker beverage.
  4. Designate a driver: If you’re planning to drink Long Island Iced Tea at a party or event, ensure that you have a designated driver or make alternative transportation arrangements, such as taking a taxi or rideshare service.

It’s essential to keep these safety precautions in mind while appreciating Long Island Iced Tea to ensure you enjoy it responsibly and have a pleasant experience.

Nutritional Content and Caloric Information

When it comes to the nutritional content and caloric information of a Long Island Iced Tea, it’s important to consider the ingredients that go into this popular cocktail. Generally, a Long Island Iced Tea contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, sour mix, and cola.

Each of these ingredients contributes to the overall nutritional content and calorie count of the drink. A standard 8-ounce serving of Long Island Iced Tea typically contains around 275 calories. However, this number can vary depending on the specific brands and proportions of the ingredients used.

Here’s a breakdown of the caloric information for a typical Long Island Iced Tea:

  • Vodka, gin, rum, tequila (1/2 oz each): Approximately 40 calories per 1/2 oz of each spirit, totaling 160 calories.
  • Triple sec (1/2 oz): Roughly 50 calories.
  • Sour mix (1/2 oz): Around 25 calories.
  • Cola (3 oz): Approximately 40 calories.

It’s important to note that Long Island Iced Teas don’t offer significant nutritional value. They don’t contain vitamins, minerals, protein, or fiber. The primary source of calories in this drink comes from the alcoholic content and added sugars in the sour mix and cola.

Since Long Island Iced Teas have relatively high calorie counts and limited nutritional benefits, it’s best to enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle. Keep in mind that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a range of negative health effects, so be sure to practice responsible drinking and stick to the recommended guidelines for alcohol intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main flavors in a Long Island Iced Tea?

A Long Island Iced Tea combines sweet, sour, and bitter flavors due to its mix of ingredients. You will taste notes from the five different spirits used: gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and triple sec. The sour mix and cola balance these flavors, resulting in a predominantly sweet and sour beverage.

How strong is a typical Long Island Iced Tea?

Though it varies based on recipes and preparations, a Long Island Iced Tea is generally a strong cocktail due to the high alcoholic content from the five different spirits. However, because of its sweet and sour combination, the taste of the alcohol is often masked, so you may not notice its strength immediately.

What variations of Long Island Iced Tea are popular?

Popular variations of Long Island Iced Tea include the Tokyo Iced Tea, Miami Iced Tea, and Royal Flush. The Tokyo Iced Tea substitutes Midori (melon liqueur) for the cola and has a vibrant green color. The Miami Iced Tea uses cranberry juice instead of cola and offers a fruity twist. The Royal Flush replaces cola with a combination of peach schnapps and cranberry juice, giving it a unique flavor profile.

Which foods pair well with Long Island Iced Tea?

Long Island Iced Tea pairs well with both savory and spicy foods. Its bold flavors complement foods like barbecue, fried chicken, buffalo wings or spicy Asian dishes. The sweet and sour taste of the drink can also work well with salty appetizers like nachos or soft pretzels.

Is it supposed to resemble the taste of iced tea?

Though its name might suggest otherwise, the primary flavors of a Long Island Iced Tea do not resemble a traditional iced tea. The name is derived from its visual similarity to iced tea, but the taste is predominantly sweet and sour, with no tea flavors present in the drink.

What is the standard recipe for Long Island Iced Tea?

A standard Long Island Iced Tea recipe is as follows:

  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz rum
  • 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz sour mix
  • Cola, to top
  • Lemon slice, for garnish

Mix the spirits and sour mix in a shaker with ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice, and top with cola. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon slice. Enjoy responsibly!

ginger ale cocktail recipe

What Does Long Island Iced Tea Taste Like? + Recipe

Here's a recipe for a classic Long Island Iced Tea:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 208 kcal


  • 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz sour mix
  • Cola
  • Lemon wedge


  • Fill a shaker with ice.
  • Add vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and sour mix to the shaker.
  • Shake well.
  • Strain the mixture into a tall glass filled with ice.
  • Top off the glass with cola.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge.
  • Enjoy your Long Island Iced Tea!


Calories: 208kcal
Keyword long island iced tea
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)