The Real and True Story of the Original Long Island Iced Tea

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That Long Island Iced Tea you enjoy to cool down during the summer didn't start in New York. Read the fascinating history of why this recipe calls Kingsport, Tennessee home!

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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. 

An aerial view of Long Island in the South Holston River, Tennessee’s First National Historic Landmark

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

most favorite.

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

you!

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2 Responses

  1. 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.

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