Behind the Bar: Long Island Iced Tea

Every month, we feature Craig Green, Manager of Culinary Services, in an article where he shares tips, recipes, fun cocktails and great information on all the latest bar trends or happenings at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

When I turned 21 and was finally able to order a cocktail at a bar, I think I went straight to the Long Island Iced Tea. Unless, of course, you consider my short obsession with Zima & Grenadine.

The Long Island Iced Tea was said to be created by Robert “Rosebud” Butt in a contest in 1972 to create a beverage using Triple Sec. Rosebud lived in Long Island, working at the Oak Bench Inn, so this is the story I’ll believe.

Interestingly enough, there’s a closely related creation that was made in Kingsport, Tennessee, in the community of Long Island. This beverage was created by “Old Man Bishop” in the 20’s and included whiskey and maple syrup. No thanks.

I don’t know of a single bartender that hasn’t made their weight in Long Island Teas — or, “LITs” — as most bartenders refer to the beverage. It’s one of the few concoctions that won’t get a visible eye roll like a frozen daiquiri. It gives bartenders the opportunity to show some flair by grabbing five bottles at once to impress bar guests.

In the sole purpose of “research,” I’ll often stop by Cheddar’s and order our Long Island Iced Tea. It’s a deliciously refreshing cocktail and it’s a great way to relax and decompress from a long day. Plus, since it’s National Iced Tea Month, there’s no reason not to stop into your local Cheddar’s and order up a hand-crafted Long Island Iced Tea.


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