The Tully Tea Cocktail: Upgrade Your Long Island in Style

A Long Island Variation for St. Patrick's Day (or Any Day!)

Leo DeGroff's Tully Tea Cocktail - Long Island Iced Tea Variation
The Tully Tea uses the best spirits from your liquor cabinet and adds Irish whiskey to the popular Long Island Iced Tea. Lauri Patterson / E+ / Getty Images

Whiskey does not typically find its way into the popular Long Island Iced Tea and Irish whiskey is almost never used. However, the Tully Tea transforms everything you thought you knew about that essential and notorious drink and transforms it into a high-class beverage worthy of St. Patrick's Day (or any day for that matter).

The Tully Tea was created by Leo DeGroff, son of the legendary "King of the Cocktail" Dale DeGroff.

 Leo has quickly made a name for himself in the world of modern bartending and it is through drinks like these that we see how many skills he has picked up from his famous father.

Reviving the Legendary Long Island Ice Tea

Many cocktail enthusiasts (some would say snobs) have decried the merits of the Long Island in recent years. It is true that it was a drink created in the 1970's that seems to be little more than a really quick way to get drunk without drinking a bunch of shots. There are still many LIIT fans out there and if you ar one of them, then this is a drink you will want to taste.

Though our collective taste for cocktails may have evolved over the years, sometimes it takes a transformation like the Tully Tea to help us realize that there may be some merit in holding on to these old favorites. Sure, many drinkers are still going to turn their noses up at a drink with such a variety of liquor, but there are plenty of other drinks to please them.

Where the Long Island often goes wrong is that the bartenders will use the full line up of liquor in the 'well' to create it. This recipe does just the opposite and by-passes the cheap stuff, instead opting for some of the best brands in their respective categories. It is an upgrade from the gin to the tequila and the fact that the 'tasteless' vodka has been dropped and a great Irish whiskey is used instead, well, that makes it all the better.

The Tully Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain ingredients into a highball glass.
  4. Add ice to fill and top off with Coca Cola.

A Slight Variation: Add 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters in step 1 and replace the Coca-Cola with ginger ale for a sophisticated alternative.

(Recipe from Leo DeGroff)

How Strong is the Tully Tea?

Highballs are always a little more difficult to calculate when it comes to measuring the final alcohol content because there are many factors involved. Each bartender has their own pouring style, highball glasses can vary by a couple of ounces, and the amount of ice used can vary greatly.

Let's assume that 1 ounce of soda is used to fill the glass. We know the proof of all of the liquors involved and that the rum, tequila, and whiskey are each 80 proof. Oxley gin is the only higher proof liquor and that is 94 proof. With these assumptions, we can estimate that the finished Tully Tea is about 18% ABV (36 proof).

Does that surprise you?

It should because the Long Island family of drinks has a reputation of being very potent when, in reality, they are not.

To put this drink into perspective, let's look at the classic Gin Martini made with Oxley Gin. Made with 2 1/2 ounces gin and 1/2 ounce dry vermouth, this drink would be about 36% ABV (72 proof) and that is slightly lower than the average liquor's bottling strength.

The Tully Tea (and Long Island, for that matter) looks like a stronger drink because the liquor list is longer though the four spirits add up to only a 2 ounce pour. In reality, it is about half as strong as most classic martinis.

It could be a psychological effect, the mix of so many different liquors, and (most probable) the quality and quantity of those liquors that tend to get Long Island drinkers drunk faster.

Of course, if you have many Long Islands you will be drunk so don't let this analysis give you permission to drink more than you know you should.

Originally Published: March 2, 2010
Edited by Colleen Graham