I think the first Long Island Iced Tea that I ever had was at some TGI Applefarts type place with dusty crap on the walls and taxidermy paying you more attention than the wait staff. I was about 19, but most of my friends were 25 and all drinking so the waitress didn’t card me. It was blue and looking back it was probably mostly pineapple juice. The menu had about 5 of them in a variety of colors and flavors. It was a very educational experience from what little I can remember of it. I remember a couple of older ladies looking at our drunken revelry and heard one say “Oh aren’t those boys having fun.”
Long Islands are about having low brow fun. So are blue drinks, so it’s no surprise you see chain restaurants turn these devils blue with regularity. They draw the eye immediately because well, that’s not a normal color for a drink no matter how many I make. Tiki abounds with similar gimmicks, making me think that Long Island’s must be a descendant of Polynesian Pop. It’s hard to make a drink that’s both bright blue and deeply flavorful. To preserve that color you have to use mostly clear spirits and lighter colored mixers. These items are usually known for having bright and light flavors, but they need darker richer flavors for balance. I try to add dashes of dark or gold liquors when I can, but you have to be careful not to turn it green. Onto the booze!
Waverider Iced Tea
¾ oz El Dorado 3 year
¾ oz Purus Vodka
¾ oz Beefeater Gin
¾ oz Mount Gay Rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz blue curacao
½ oz honey syrup
1 oz ginger beer
dash of Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
Shake all ingredients except ginger beer well with ice. Add ginger beer and then pour unstrained into a chimney glass. Garnish with a few springs of fresh mint and a swizzle.
The mint, bitters, and gin do a lot of the nose work here. This drink is on the lighter side with a touch of sweetness. The lime and bitters are good match for the ginger. The gin really impacts the more mellow flavors. El Dorado 3 year adds a lot of body, if I had to sub it I’d probably use Old New Orleans white. I’d rather not sub it though, El Dorado three just works so well. This drink has a twangy, fresh, taste with a light wiggle at the end. Ginger and honey is a pretty great combination and the Gin helps the kids out nicely. The Waverider is pretty customize-able in the syrup category. For awhile I was making these with Vanilla syrup and I thought that was the right track. But I subbed honey on a whim and that worked very nice as well. Honey let the other flavors come out a bit better. You can use a double strength honey mix if the boozy flavors come in to strong. I tried it both ways and went with the single, but by all means use what works for you here. If you don’t have the bitters I encourage the purchase, they accent a planters punch nicely as well as a rye old fashioned. If you have to sub use something with some bite like allspice or nutmeg based bitters. I used a ginger beer from the mixer section because it was on sale, it was a little weaker and clearer than the stuff I normally favor. However I think the drink could benefit from the use of Reed’s or Buffalo Rock.
Fun means blue, and L.I.T’s are supposed to be fun. One thing is for sure it tastes way better than any chain drink. Well they are fun for everyone but your liver anyway. Next time I plan to put the Tea in the L.I.T. We’ll see if that scheme works out. Until next time…
“You get Hammered America” – JFL