Long Island’s most ‘potent potable’ has international acclaim

A Long Island Iced Tea (Photo by Pen Waggener, used under Creative Commons License)

Since first being served in the mid-1970s, the “Long Island Iced Tea” has become a mainstay in not only American bars but at drinking establishments worldwide.

Robert “Rosebud” Butts served the first “LIT” when he was the bartender at the Oak Beach Inn on Jones Beach Island.

Though the majority of the credit goes to Butts for creating the drink, rumors abound as to how the LIT got its name. One story claims that upper-class Long Island women allegedly mixed together a bit of everything in their liquor cabinets so their husbands wouldn’t be able to tell if anything was missing. An  LIT combines vodka, gin, rum, tequila and triple sec with sour-mix or lemon juice and a splash of Cola to give it a tea-like appearance.

A Long Island Iced Tea (Photo by Pen Waggener, used under Creative Commons License)

A Long Island Iced Tea (Photo by Pen Waggener, used under Creative Commons License)

Current Boston College junior Abbey Canning, 21, is studying abroad in Italy this semester and said she was shocked to find her favorite cocktail in a different country.

“I would have bet a lot of money that I wouldn’t have been able to find a bartender in Italy who knew what a Long Island Iced Tea was, but I was mistaken as most every bar I’ve been to over here serves LIT’s,” Canning said.

Bryan Pickell, 23, a former Long Island bartender who is now a bartender in Rhode Island says that he receives about the same if not more LIT orders in Rhode Island than he did when he worked on Long Island.

“I think people on Long Island like to order something different than a Long Island Iced Tea because it may be too much of a cliché, whereas in Rhode Island it makes them feel like they are vacationing in the Hamptons,” Pickell said.

In terms of the difficulty in preparing an LIT, Hempstead’s McHebes bartender Kelly Vaughen, 20, says it isn’t hard to make.

“Some people think it’s hard to put together just because there are so many different parts to it, but all you need is a shot glass to measure everything out and you’ll be on your way to a homemade LIT,” Vaughen said.

With the abundant amounts of liquor, it’s important to balance out the drink so that the vodka doesn’t over power the gin or vice versa. The dangerous part about a well prepared LIT is that the alcohol–even though it has a 22 percent alcohol concentration—is difficult to taste.

“If blended correctly, an LIT can be one of the most satisfying drinks but can come back to bite you if you think there isn’t any alcohol in it,” Vaughen said.

It must be noted that the LIT is not for the light-hearted due to its potent ingredients. It has a much higher alcohol concentration than most mixed drinks due to the several kinds of liquors and small amount of mixer.

The ingredients, which are combined in a tall glass filled with ice and garnished with a lemon, include:







If you plan on imbibing even one Long Island Iced Tea, be sure to have a designated driver for the night.

Long Island Report reminds you to drink responsibly.