Crazy Facts About Long Island Iced Tea

The contested history and five shots makes this drink famous and infamous.

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The Long Island iced tea is a popular drink among us Islanders as well as non-Islanders alike, but very few know how to make it correctly. Click here to learn how to make the best Long Island Iced Tea.


Below we list some crazy facts and controversial history of the famous drink.


  • Recipes call for at least five shots in a Long Island Iced Tea
  • Ingredients include gin, tequila, vodka, white rum, Triple Sec, Gomme sugar syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of cola.
  • Bob “Rosebud” Butt is credited with inventing the Long Island Iced Tea in 1972.
  • Butt invented it working at the OBI East in the Hamptons for a friendly contest
  • He says they put a bottle of Triple Sec on the bar and challenge 20 bartenders to make a drink
  • There is a 2013 mini documentary by PBS in its “Inventors” series about Butt’s drink
  • In the video Butt shows you how to make a Long Island Iced Tea

Watch the documentary about Long Island Iced Tea and Bob “Rosebud” Butt below

Video: PBS Digital Studios/YouTube

  • In the 2000s, the Kingsport, Tennessee tourism board said that the Long Island Iced Tea was concocted there during Prohibition
  • The inventor who went by the name Charlie Bishop aka Old Man Bishop and supposedly made it up on a little island called Long Island on a river in Kingsport
  • He named the drink after himself
  • Kingsport used the Old Man Bishop version of the drink in its tourism marketing
  • In a challenge representatives from New York and Tennessee met for drink-making "battle" in Washington DC in June 2019
  • Tennessee was declared the winner of taste tests, but New York participants have claimed that the contest was rigged
  • The two drinks are slightly different and the Long Island version is more well-known
  • Alternative stories on the origin are that it was actually invented at OBI at Jones Beach
  • Some sources also claim the recipe appeared in Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook in 1961
  • Long Island Iced Tea is sometimes abbreviated as LIIT
  • It is notorious for causing severe hangovers (and poor decisions)
  • It has an alcohol concentration of about 22 percent
  • That is more than most highball drinks probably due to the five shots and miniscule amount of mixer
  • The ‘Iced Tea’ part of the name comes from the tea color and sweet taste of the triple sec