Forget the hot tub time machine - nothing brings me back to college, as a student and as a bartender, like a Long Island iced tea. That five-spirit fright is responsible for the worst hangover I (somewhat) remember; behind the stick in Virginia, I couldn't legally serve more than one at a time.
Run down the classic recipe, and you'll see why: a towering 2 ounces each of white rum, tequila, vodka, gin and triple sec, squirted with lemon juice and a splash of Coke that was more for color (to make it look like its namesake) than anything else.
When Tales of the Cocktail revelers buried it in 2011, I thought it was done. But recently, in an interview tied to the opening of Hey Bartender, Dale DeGroff said that the drink is actually "awesome" if you make it as he does, with fresh lemon juice and a scaled-down measuring of the spirits.
I realized I'd never had it made by a master, so I asked Cole Newton at Twelve Mile Limit to build one for me. He pulled the recipe from a box of index cards of original and classic recipes (the LIIT is there among White Russians and Dark & Stormys - not bad company).
"I sell a few Long Island iced teas a week," Cole says.
His method? Much like Dale's - a half-ounce each of the spirits, balanced by simple syrup, and an ounce each of Coke ("it has acidity, effervescence, citrus; a good mixer," says Cole) and fresh lemon juice.
"That's the value of fresh juice in a cocktail that would have been dismissed," says Cole.
For sure, his version is crisp, with a muted sourness and rum-forward quality, all of which I'd overlooked in school. The lesson's easier learned, this time around.
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