Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea

One of the latest entries in the pre-mixed cocktail world, Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea1 is posing itself as the company’s summer drink for 2011 along with its usual fare of “strike a pose”-inducing rums. I’m typically not a fan of pre-mixed bottled drinks, but given the LIIT’s gateway drink status, I figured I would give it a chance.

Considering what it takes to make a Long Island Iced Tea (recipe below), I wouldn’t be inclined to make one on the fly and it certainly wouldn’t be my party drink of choice unless I was making a pitcher–or bucket–ahead of time and letting guests ladle it out themselves. I do this with sangria and it works just fine. About the only fun of making a LIIT, or any other similar concoction is that you feel like a mad scientist pouring various fluids together to make a seemingly innocent mixture that will knock you on your ass. But beyond that, it’s sort of a pain, especially to make just one. I understand why companies make the pre-mixed versions.

Long Island Iced Tea

  • 12 oz. gin
  • 12 oz. rum
  • 12 oz. tequila
  • 12 oz. vodka
  • 12 oz. triple sec
  • 12 oz. lemon juice*
  • 12 oz. simple syrup
  • Coke (or similarly cola-like soda)
  1. Add ingredients to a Highball or Collins glass with 3-4 ice cubes and stir.
  2. Top off with Coke, from a “splash” to 2 oz. or so, to taste and color.

For such a “simple” drink, there are many variations on this recipe, the above is my take on it and produced a well-mixed, nicely sweet result.

* Many recipes call for sweet & sour mix, which I can’t stand. You can usually substitute lemon juice or a 50/50 mix of lemon and lime juice to your liking.

How does the Captain Morgan mix compare to the original recipe? It’s comparable, definitely has the right color, but the taste is a little strong on citrus and caramel to emulate the cola. If you’ve ever gone to a bar offering a special on LIITs, it tastes a bit better than the ones you’d get there. It makes for a prettier drink as mine was a bit murky from the type of juice I used and a blind taste test didn’t help since the original recipe has the slight carbonation that the Captain Morgan mix doesn’t. I’ve never heard of using flat cola to make a LIIT, but after two or three servings of either version, I doubt you’d miss it… or notice… or notice much else at that point except the location of the nearest comfy seat.

We found the 1.75 liter bottles at Calvert Woodley for about $20, so from a cost perspective, if your party theme demanded LIITs and your guests weren’t of terribly discriminating taste2, go with the Captain. The cost is a lot better than trying to grab even rail versions of the required liquors and the taste is smoother than making it with really cheap booze.

A Long Island Iced Tea is known as a “sipping cocktail” rather than one that should be slammed, so with proper serving sizes and moderation/discretion, it goes a long way. Given that everyone’s take on the LIIT is a bit different, I’d say that the Captain Morgan version is more likely to be easier on the alcohol percentages than one made by hand, but your mileage may vary.

For my money, I’d stick to keeping a classically stocked bar and not trying to bog down host or bartender duties mixing up tedious cocktails3 on the fly… unless that’s your thing, of course. I don’t judge.

1 Full disclosure: I was sent a gift card and rebate for purchase and reimbursement of the beverage in addition to promotional swag… or booty, one might say.

2 I’m talking the flavored malt beverage crowd, here.

3 I realize many “craft cocktails” are also falling into the tedious category, but I think most people planning a party around cocktails have done their prep well enough so they don’t get stuck behind the bar… I hope.