On paper, the Long Island Iced Tea is one hot mess of a drink. Four different—and disparate—spirits slugging it out in a single glass, along with triple sec, lemon juice and cola? The recipe reads more like a frat house hazing than one of the world’s most popular cocktails. And yet, somehow, it works.
That’s because the Long Island Iced Tea succeeds where so many of today’s refined cocktails fall short: It’s boozy AF—more than four ounces of alcohol against less than half that amount in mixers. Unless you’re a sailor on shore leave, that’s a red-flag ratio rife with morning-after consequences. It’s also precisely what a person needs every now and then.
Best then not to intellectualize the Long Island Iced Tea and simply love it for what it is: an easy-gulping, one-and-done stiffy. If you’re looking to tame your tea a bit, pull back the boozy parts from three-quarter ounce to half-ounce, and lean in on the cola. The good people of Long Island won’t be offended.