In a recent Playboy article [link safe for work] Jeffrey Morgenthaler proposes to "rescue the Long Island Iced Tea from its 1970s origins" —
Let's just admit it, the Long Island Iced Tea is a bit of a joke. The drink had its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, but ordering one now will get you laughed out of half of America's so-called craft cocktail bars. That's a damn shame. Because when it's made well—with the proper balance of spirits and fresh ingredients instead of cloying pre-made mixes—it is a cocktail that deserves its former status as the drink of choice for millions. It can be that way again. With a few tweaks we can restore this much-maligned classic to its rightful place in the pantheon of cocktail greats.
Great drinks can taste fine when done with cheap ingredients but they become even better when carefully prepared with artisan products. There are also drinks that can be prepared with the best and most expensive ingredients and still stay crappy. The latter category applies for the LIIT. Sometimes things are so deeply broken that they can't be fixed.
Look, it is the same for cars. A Ferrari F-40 is pretty badly put together. The flimsy "plastic" bodyshell is pathetic — especially considering the car has a turbo engine [one of the last turbo engines, Ferrari produced until recently]. Spending that much money on a car built like that seems to be crazy, but it is worth it because everything else about it is great. Imagine this car properly built with better material: wow!
Now think about an Pontiac Aztec. Even if this car would be built with carbon fibre and titanium, it would remain one of the most horrific cars ever made! The Long Island Iced Tea is to cocktails as the Pontiac Aztec is to cars. Why? Simple: it's all about the concept of the Long Island Iced Tea.
See, proper drinks are built around one main spirit. That spirit may be modified, manipulated or diluted, but the main character should come from the base spirit. But a Long Island Iced Tea is made from four different spirits: rum, tequila, vodka, gin. And while rum and tequila almost never work well together (neither do tequila and gin, rum and gin — you get it...) all of them together definitely won't play well. It is a very confused drink. Even with fresh lemon juice, quality orange liqueur and Mexican Coke!
So some drinks that were taken to the grave are better off left there. Rest in hell, Long Island Iced Tea!