Bill Mullins provided a verifiable example of ‘Long Island ice tea’ from 1978.
The creation of this potent cocktail is widely attributed to bartender Robert C. Butts, who entered the recipe in a contest at the Oak Beach Inn nightclub on Long Island, New York, in the early 1970s, according to a book by the nightclub’s owner at the time:
The OBI [Oak Beach Inn] sponsored a ‘New Drinks’ contest in 1973, one in which Triple Sec had to be an ingredient. Bobby ‘Rosebud’ Butts, a bartender, presented the prize-winning concoction.
1 part rum
1 part vodka
1 part gin
1 part tequila
1 part of Triple sec
splashes of sour mix and coke
Butts won a trip for two to the grand Miami Fountainebleu Hotel for creating the now-famous ‘Long Island Iced tea’ at the OBI East!
1998 Robert W. Matherson Scandal at Oak Beach Inn xxii., p. 212
Photo of Oak Beach Inn by Lucius Madeo, via Wikipedia
When researching the origins of the drink, OED researchers contacted the innovative barman; he confirmed the story, but didn’t have any documentation of the name that we could include in our entry for Long Island iced tea, which was published last year. The earliest evidence we were able to find for the name of the drink (which may or may not have the same origin as the recipe) doesn’t appear until the early 1980s. The entry records an example from 1982, but our researchers have since discovered a slightly earlier one from 1981:
All summer, people had been downing Long Island Iced Tea, and some unwary patrons who simply asked for ‘iced tea’ and got the L.I. version, told sad tales in tones that suggested they had staggered through the city afterwards.
1981 Hartford (Connecticut) Courant 15 Oct., p. C1/5
This leaves a gap of eight years between the first evidence of the name and the drink’s reputed invention in a Long Island nightspot. Can you help us find earlier evidence of Long Island iced tea?
Posted by OED_Editor on 25 April 2013 10.01