Give Your Long Island Iced Tea A Hot Toddy-Inspired Upgrade

Perhaps most often consumed by those looking to get a quick buzz or college students looking for a sweet and highly alcoholic drink, the Long Island Iced Tea is often overlooked as a legitimate cocktail. And although it's delicious, it's easy to see why. Long Island Iced Teas include a long list of half-ounce pours of gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and triple sec. This mix of alcohol is then combined with sweet and sour mix, a small pour of soda, and a squeeze of lemon. However, despite its potency and deliciousness, the Long Island Iced Tea is a drink clearly in need of an upgrade, something to help it go from a party drink to an appreciated cocktail.


One of the best ways to level up your Long Island Iced Tea is to lean into the tea aspect of the drink. Although the drink has no actual tea in its recipe, there is no reason why you shouldn't serve it as such. Like tea, the strong cocktail can (and should) be enjoyed both hot and cold. Try thinking of this as a merger between a Long Island Iced Tea and a warm and cozy hot toddy — a cocktail that requires only whiskey, honey, and lemon, but leans into the serving style and preparation of hot tea. And like a hot toddy, a Long Island Iced Tea can do well when served hot, with a few extra yet delicious twists to bring it closer to its namesake beverage.

Leaning into the tea

However, you will want to do more than simply heat your homemade Long Island Iced Tea when giving it the hot toddy treatment. Instead, you might opt to lean into the drink's tea-linked name. There are several ways of going about this. For one, you could add honey to help offset the lemon twist usually added to the drink. Honey will add warmth and a kick of sweetness that helps give the drink a more complex taste.


Additionally, you can add black tea syrup to the drink, putting some actual tea in a drink that holds it in title only. Black tea syrup will add both sweetness and a true tea taste to the cocktail. This can help to take it from a college kid cocktail to something a bit more sophisticated, yet just as powerful. But in addition to giving your drink a bit more complexity, treating your Long Island Iced Tea like a hot toddy can also help you to sip the drink with more care, as it is more difficult to drink hot beverages quickly. Heating the iced cocktail will help you to better appreciate the cocktail's taste, and prevent you from sipping without restraint.

More than a frat house favorite

But even without its hot toddy upgrade, perhaps it's time to reevaluate this classic cocktail. Lately, ordering a Long Island Iced Tea can be a red flag for bartenders. Bar patrons often see this drink as being a bit ridiculous; a mix-up of good alcohol that is only intended to induce a buzz for the lowest possible cost and in the least amount of time. However, it seems like the Long Island Iced Tea is making a well-deserved comeback. In fact, according to Punch, a warm rendition of the cocktail was served last year at the Brooklyn hotspot Teddy's, and was originally introduced to the menu by owner T.J. Gargan as a joke. However, the drink — despite its reputation — stuck around.


Part of the Long Island Iced Tea's appeal might just be found in its cheeky, retro reputation — especially as it recalls a simpler, more kitsch approach to food and drink that pours excess in along with a bit of boldness. So, you might want to take another look at that Long Island Iced Tea. And if the original cocktail doesn't tickle your fancy, just remember that some like it hot.