What even is a Long Island iced tea? According to the IBA (International Beverage Association), it’s gin, tequila, vodka, white rum, triple sec, gomme syrup, fresh lemon juice, and cola. “Add all ingredients into highball glass filled with ice,” the recipe reads. “Stir gently. Garnish with lemon spiral. Serve with straw.”
Everything but the kitchen sink, in other words.
Invented by a Bob “Rosebud” Butt at the Oak Beach Inn on Fire Island (in Long Island, New York), the classic cocktail gets its name, supposedly, from its likeness in color, garnish, and serving glass to nonalcoholic iced tea—but the likeness stops there (just ask its 22% alcohol concentration). Other variations of the Long Island iced tea include sour mix, but one thing’s for sure: Rarely, if ever, is there a lick of actual iced tea.
Our variation—created by bartender, drinks expert, and beverage director of Our/New York in New York City, Rustun Nichols—takes the original and refines it a bit for the modern drinker. Below Nichols recommends the brands he prefers in his Long Island, but feel free to use whatever you can find. One thing, though: “Gotta use pommeau [a mix of unfermented apple juice and Calvados],” he says. “It’s kind of what makes it so good.”
To make cinnamon simple syrup at home: Add equal parts water and granulated sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add a handful or so of cinnamon sticks and let steep for an hour. You can store this syrup in the fridge for a week or two. —Eric Kim
cinnamon simple syrup (see Author Notes)
Cola, to top
apple segment, for garnish
lemon wheel, for garnish
Add rum, gin, vodka, pommeau, lemon juice, cinnamon simple syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain over a tall glass filled with ice. Top with cola. Garnish with apple segment and lemon wheel.