What if we told you, the famous Long Island Iced Tea drink that has been popularized throughout
the country has its origins in Kingsport, Tennessee?
Until last month, we didn’t even know that there was a Long Island in Kingsport, but it is
in the Holston River. This area was of huge importance for the Cherokee Indians but even 300+
years later, there’s another claim to fame.
During Prohibition, the island became an infamous location as bootlegging and violence took
over the area. Smugglers could easily move in and out of the area with their booze. During this
same time, Charley “Old Man” Bishop concocted a drink that looked just like a glass of iced tea.
The drink had whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, and a little maple syrup in it. A few years later, his
son, Ransom, added cola, lemon, and lime to the drink, making it even tastier.
This drink was the original Long Island iced tea, not the one from Long Island, New York.
When the history of this drink was revealed, the incredible people of Northeast Tennessee
couldn’t contain their excited and sure couldn’t sit on this secret any longer. So, in 2018, the
tourism partners in Northeast Tennessee decided to spread the word about this discovery and you
wouldn’t believe how upset the folks in New York got.
A gentleman named Butch Yamali, who owns Hudson’s on the Mile on Long Island, N.Y., took
offense to our claim, saying that a guy named Robert “Rosebud” Butt created the Long Island
Iced Tea (his version used triple sec and no whiskey or maple syrup). The issue with this claim
was that Old Man Bishop had created his original recipe some 50 years before Rosebud Butt.
This was shaping up for quite a showdown, but no one could have written the script any better than how
it turned out. Even though it started out as a friendly competition, both Kingsport and Long Island
wanted and needed to win the competition that was brewing. As soon as word started leaking out in
both New York and Tennessee, Kingsport started their marketing campaign in not only a tourism effort
but also to claim what rightfully belonged to the city.
The plan was hatched that Kingsport and Long Island would each host a competition to see who
had the best Long Island Iced Tea and they would meet on neutral ground to determine the overall
winner. Mr. Yamali hosted the first showdown at his Hudson’s on the Mile establishment in Long Island,
New York and a blind taste test quickly revealed that the New York recipe was the New York judges
A couple of weeks later, all of Kingsport (it seemed) still using their own bartenders,
Shane Winegar and Randy Ashens from East Coast Wings in Kingsport, gathered at Riverfront Seafood
Company and the Kingsport folks, even the ones in the blind taste test, knew the best drink at the
competition. The Kingsport crew scored their victory and where ready for what would become round 3!
Now tied up at 1 victory a piece, the winner takes all event happened a couple of months later in
National Harbor, Maryland at Bobby McKey’s Piano Bar. The wild crowd was present for one of the
greatest victories for Kingsport, being declared the winner of the Original Long Island Iced tea and
thanks to our experience in March, we can surely see why!
Even though Shane Winegar fixes the best Long Island Tea in the country, you can make it at home too!
Check out the recipe below!So, the next ime you are in Kingsport, Tennessee, head over the East Coast
Wings and tell Shane to fix you up the specialty! Make sure you tell all those amazing folks that we sent
I will say that this is one interesting read. I do enjoy a good Long Island Iced Tea!! Thanks for the recipe!!! I will certainly be trying this out soon. It would be a real treat to attend one of the Long Island Iced Tea Celebrations.
For sure!! It is a great experience and absolutely delicious!!