Why Bartenders Aren't Fans Of The Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail

Long Island cocktail on a bar
Long Island cocktail on a bar - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

When you set out on a night of drinking, you can crack open a bottle of beer, slowly sip on a glass of straight whiskey, and even opt for something sweet, a fruity feast for the senses, and cause waves of envy to echo through the bar. However, if you're craving something that packs a punch, you might consider ordering a Long Island Iced Tea. This request, however, will potentially bother your bartender.

A Long Island Iced Tea contains essentially the entire liquor cabinet -- vodka, gin, rum, and tequila all come together in this cocktail. A Long Island Iced Tea often can have an alcohol content of around 22%, though the actual ABV can vary. The high proof of this cocktail can lead to overly inebriated and problematic bar patrons, but troublesome clientele isn't the only issue bartenders have with the cocktail. Making a LIIT is a painstaking process, given its seemingly endless ingredient list. Furthermore, despite being a difficult drink to mix, a Long Island is simply not a particularly pleasant cocktail to sip on, and mixologists aren't keen on serving customers who prioritize intoxication above all else.

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Why The Long Island Iced Tea Is Unpopular With Mixologists

Bottles of hard alcohol
Bottles of hard alcohol - monticello/Shutterstock

New Mexico State University delves into the dangers of alcohol overconsumption. It explains that as your body can only process 1 to 1½ ounces of alcohol every hour, the sheer volume of alcohol in a LIIT can easily overwhelm your system if too many are consumed in short order, putting you at risk of alcohol poisoning.

According to The Beat 92.5, a survey of 260 bartenders in the United States conducted by Alcohol.org found that nearly 30% are against the Long Island iced tea. Some bartenders may make one, but many mixologists won't, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a bartender tossing one back. The safety of those bellied up at the bar is of the utmost importance to the people who make drinks, but it isn't the main reason bartenders turn up their noses to the LIIT. Frankly, the sheer number of ingredients included makes the drink an annoying ask for your mixologists, especially if the bar is busy. The LIIT contains essentially the entire liquor cabinet, and as such, is not a particularly cohesive cocktail flavor-wise. At the end of the day, the drink is thought of as the choice of an unseasoned drinker, someone seeking a quick buzz. As such, any bartender who prides themselves on crafting balanced drinks cannot abide this veritable garbage can of a cocktail.

The Current State Of The Long Island Iced Tea

Long island with lemon slices
Long island with lemon slices - 5PH/Shutterstock

Despite the stigma associated with the spirit-forward cocktail, the Long Island iced tea has been the subject to some serious makeovers since its conception. Though purists may balk at the changes myriad mixologists have made, certain alterations are undeniable improvements. Some bartenders have added lime to the LIIT, which cuts the cocktail's overwhelming sweetness with a citrus bite. Additionally, other versions use a wide variety of alternative mix-ins. One bar uses black tea syrup instead of cola and serves the piping hot LIITs in the winter. A summer version appears at another bar that uses frozen lemonade. In this refreshing take on the boozy beverage, the splash of cola sits at the bottom of the cocktail. At another watering hole, you can enjoy a draft Long Island iced tea made with homemade cola. The alcohol included can also be altered from the original recipe to make for a more cohesive cocktail. For example, the original orange Triple Sec can be swapped out for Amaro Montenegro, which gives a herby finish to the drink, and using mezcal instead of tequila will add a smoky spin to the classic cocktail.

These upscale LIITs may mitigate some of the concerns bartenders have about the boozy drink by standardizing its recipe. Safety aside, a Long Island iced tea made with a focus on flavor will make for a much more enjoyable drinking experience.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.