The Long Island Iced Tea is one of many creative cocktails whose numerous ingredients are intended to simulate the flavor of something entirely different. Although definitely not tea nor containing any tea, the Long Island Iced Tea does taste like tea, and it did hail from Long Island. Robert C. “Rosebud” Butt is credited with creating this drink in the 1970s; ever since, he has been toast of the town as well as the butt of many diatribes. As Joseph Scott and Donald Bain point out in The World’s Best Bartender Guide, the problem with the Long Island Iced Tea is that it doesn’t taste like an alcoholic drink, and therefore those otherwise circumspect about drinking alcohol summarily end up as boiled as an owl. In fact, two’s the limit in most bars, and other bars will no longer serve it because it goes down so easily—and soon the drinker follows suit.
Still, the Long Island Iced Tea need not be a knockout punch. By halving the ingredients, the flavor remains but the kick is softened.
Originally an American frat house formulation, the Long Island Iced Tea has made its way in and out of bars and lounges across the country, inspiring adherents and detractors along the way. While not intended to be a nightcap, it nevertheless has a way of abruptly and unceremoniously putting an end to an evening.
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