Long Beach Iced Tea

The Long Beach Iced Tea is a fruity variation on the classic cocktail starring cranberry juice! It’s sweet tart and refreshing.

Long Beach Iced Tea

Want a lighter spin on a classic cocktail? Try the Long Beach Iced Tea! This cousin of the Long Island Iced Tea swaps in cranberry juice for cola, making it even more sweet tart and refreshing. Make it the classic way, and it tastes fresh and zippy from the citrus and cranberry. While this drink is infamously boozy, the recipe below has a comparable alcohol level to many great cocktails!

What’s in a Long Beach Iced Tea

The Long Island Iced Tea is a highball cocktail made with cola and 5 liquors: vodka, tequila, rum, gin and orange liqueur. The modern version of this cocktail was most likely invented in 1972 by a bartender in Long Island, New York: hence the name. The “iced tea” refers not to tea as an ingredient, but the brown color of the drink from the cola. A Long Beach Iced Tea swaps in cranberry juice for the cola, giving it a ruby red color and fruity flavor.

  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • White rum
  • Gin
  • Cointreau
  • Lemon juice
  • Cranberry juice

Some Long Island Iced Tea recipes use sour mix, but we prefer to use real lemon juice and simple syrup. It makes for the best refreshing, pure flavor to this drink.

Long Beach Iced Tea

Use unsweetened cranberry juice

This Long Island Iced Tea has the best flavor and color with unsweetened 100% cranberry juice. This is the type we like to use in all our cranberry juice cocktails. Why?

  • Sweetened cranberry juice (aka cranberry juice cocktail): Classic cranberry drinks like the Vodka Cranberry were originally made with sweetened cranberry juice. It includes sugar and sometimes high-fructose corn syrup, and is very sweet.
  • Unsweetened cranberry juice (aka 100% cranberry juice): is what we prefer for cranberry cocktails. The flavor is pure and sweet tart, and it allows you to customize the sweetness of your drink to taste. It also has a very bright color compared to the sweetened juice.
  • Can’t find unsweetened? You can still make this drink with sweetened cranberry juice. Simply cut the simple syrup in half!
See also  Frozen Coffee

How to make Long Beach Iced Tea

Sure, the ingredient list for a Long Beach Iced Tea feels miles long. But the nice part about this drink? You can build it right in the glass: no cocktail shaker required! Here’s what to do:

  • Stir: Pour the components into a highball glass. Add ice and stir.
  • Garnish: Add a lemon wedge and fresh mint if desired.
Long Beach Iced Tea

Actually, no! The Long Beach Iced Tea has a total of 2.5 ounces hard alcohol. Most cocktail recipes have 2 to 3 ounces alcohol, so this drink falls within the range of most cocktail recipes.

Liquor substitute ideas

We get it: you might not always have all 5 of these liquors on hand at once! Here are some ideas for substituting one or two of the liquors in a Long Beach Iced Tea:

  • Vodka, tequila, or gin: Leave one of these out and double one of the other liquors. For example, if you don’t have gin double the tequila. But try to have at least 3 of the 4 main liquors.
  • White rum: Use another type of rum (aged or dark) if you don’t have white on hand. Or again, you can leave it out and double one of the other liquors.
  • Cointreau: Use a Cointreau substitute like Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Orange Curacao.

More Long Island iced tea variations

Want a few more variations on the LITT? Here’s the original and a few more ideas:

Print

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  • ½ ounce* vodka
  • ½ ounce tequila
  • ½ ounce white rum
  • ½ ounce gin
  • ½ ounce Cointreau (or other orange liqueur like Triple Sec)
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces unsweetened 100% cranberry juice**
  • For the garnish: lemon wedge, fresh mint (optional)
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)


  1. Combine all ingredients in highball glass. Fill it with ice and stir. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh mint and serve.

Notes

*1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

**If all you can find is sweetened cranberry juice, aka cranberry juice cocktail, reduce the simple syrup to ½ ounce.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktail
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Long beach iced tea