Monday, September 27, 2010

Long Island Iced Tea

In my effort to embrace gin as the staple of drinking culture that it is, I find myself revisiting the things I cast aside in my gin rebuking wake.  One of the drinks that I saw as an opportunity to ease myself into gin was a long island iced tea.  According to wikipedia "Long Island Iced Tea, a summer drink, was first served in the mid 1970s by Robert (Rosebud) Butts, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn, in the town of Babylon, Long Island, New York."  It's probably a good thing that Mr. Butts became a bartender rather than a substitute teacher.  The kids would have had a field day with that one.  Heh heh...Butts.

It's a drink that isn't made outside the context of a bar very often.  It does require more ingredients than most drinks.  The unlikely combination of liquors blend together to create a taste that is entirely its own.  The mixers mask the booze in such a way that it hardly seems like you're drinking at all.  This is the reason that long island iced teas are so popular among girls who have just turned 21 and want to get drunk without knocking back shots of whiskey.

For those unfamiliar, the long island iced tea is a cocktail consisting of the spirits gin, rum, vodka and tequila.  There are some variations after that but sugar, lemon and coca-cola are always involved.  I don't know if this is still the case, but when I worked as a bartender for Ruby Tuesday, the recipe called for no tequila.  Even as a guy who didn't drink them, I knew this seemed wrong.  Oddly, there was a drink that was essentially a long island iced tea called a texas tea.  The texas tea was a long island iced tea and the long island iced tea was an abomination.  Here's the kicker--it was the same price.  As soon as I discovered Ruby Tuesday's dirty little secret, I would use it as a ploy to sell texas teas.  Maybe that was their plan all along.  Anyway, remember that the next time you roll into a Ruby Tuesday.

My first attempt did not yield enough liquid to fill my glass.  I ended up using too much cola to fill; what should have looked like iced tea looked like coca-cola.  In addition it had a little too much lemon and wasn't sweet enough.  I tried tinkering with the recipe the following day and I believe I've vastly improved upon it.  The recipe printed reflects changes that I think helped the flavor profile.  A little more booze, a little less mixer.

Long Island Iced Tea
adapted from

-3/4 oz. gin
-3/4 oz. vodka
-3/4 oz. light rum
-3/4 oz. tequila
-3/4 oz. triple sec or grand marnier
-1 oz. fresh lemon juice
-1/3 oz. simple syrup
-club soda

Combine all ingredients except cola and club soda in a cocktail shaker and shake 5 seconds.  Strain into a very tall (16 ounce) glass filled with ice cubes, then top off with equal parts cola and club soda and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge and stir.

I can see how this drink can get out of hand fairly quickly.  The flavors do blend together nicely and go down smooth.  Almost too smooth.  It's one of those drinks that it's probably best to cap at one.  After three or so, you might forget where you put your feet.  It won't be until the following day that you realize they're right where you left them--attached to your legs. Which are sprawled on the bathroom floor.

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