The Long Beach Iced Tea is a cousin to the Long Island Iced Tea, substituting cranberry juice for the cola. That makes for a very refreshing, rather tart drink that can perk you up after a long day.
Why have a Long Beach Iced Tea? Because you want a good, stiff drink, but you’d like it to mostly taste like cranberry.
The Stealth Effect
This is a stealth drink. It doesn’t taste nearly as strong as it is, so it can sneak up on you before you realize what’s happening.
Like the Long Island Iced Tea, this is not a drink for the faint-hearted. It’s got three and a half ounces of straight alcohol in it, but the fruity mixers disguise that flavor.
A standard drink has one and a half ounces of liquor in it, so this one is somewhere between double and triple the strength of a standard drink.
Some readers have reported they don’t find it as strong as it sounds. That’s probably because they’re drinking it slowly, with all the fruit juice to dilute it.
That – and eating while you drink – can make a drink seem weaker than it is. But it’s still a lot of alcohol no matter how it feels.
When to enjoy
The Long Beach Iced Tea is is therefore not a drink for serving to guests who tend to get out of hand even with standard cocktails. Even when you drink it with a meal, it tends to sneak up on you.
Think of it more as a drink for sipping along on a long, slow afternoon. It’s great for enjoying on a hot day on the patio or by the pool.
It’s great for enjoying when you’ve got no place to drive to and you really need to relax. Try it the next time you’re having an evening in after a long week.
No fresh lemons to squeeze? Most versions of this recipe actually call for bottled sour mix rather than lemon juice and simple syrup, and that’s a fine substitution to make.
This version calls for lemon juice and simple syrup because it gives a fresher, more juicy taste than bottled mixers. But get a small batch sour mix that’s all fresh fruit juice and cane sugar, and that will work well too.
Don’t have all the liquors? Just double up on one you do have to make up the difference. It will taste ever so slightly different, but it really won’t make that much difference.
Choosing Your Bottles
The main flavor in this drink comes from the triple sec, cranberry juice and lemon juice. That gives it cranberry and citrus notes, which are easy to love.
Those fruity flavors – especially the cranberry – are what you will taste the most. Most bars use Ocean Spray cranberry juice, but you can use a different brand if you prefer.
You’ll also pick up some herbal and citrus notes from the gin. Different bottles of gin can vary in taste – a lot. So you want to pick one you like.
For the triple sec, which you will taste, you might want to spring for a hand-crafted bottle. It can make a world of difference. And yes, you can also substitute a different orange liqueur if you want.
How much is “fill”?
This recipe calls for you to “fill” with cranberry juice at the end. But that’s a measurement that depends very much on the size of your glass, right?
You don’t have to literally fill up your glass. To decide how much cranberry juice you want to use, just ask yourself how much you like it.
If you love cranberry juice, you’ll probably enjoy a nice big glass filled to the top with cranberry juice. It makes for a longer drink, and dilutes the alcohols more, making the drink seem less strong.
With a lot of cranberry juice, it feels more like two drinks poured into one glass than one strong drink. Perfect for sipping along and enjoying.
This is the kind of drink that’s perfect with a burger and fries. It’s also great with chicken or fish meals.
If you like how the flavor of cranberry gives a nice tart contrast to heavy foods, try it with this Creamy Chicken Bacon from Salt and Lavender. Definitely more a comfort food than a health food.
It’s also great with this Pan-Roasted Fish Fillets With Herb Butter. The fish gets browned and seasoned with herbs and spices, and that tastes great followed by a drink of your Long Beach Iced Tea.
This recipe calls for seasonal fruit for the garnish. Some good choices would include cranberries or a slice of orange, because they both suggest the flavors within the drink.
But you can also use lime and mint. Or lemon. Or even some other type of berry like raspberry.
The fruit won’t add overpowering flavor, especially when it’s up against cranberry juice and triple sec. You may want to think of the garnish more as something to eat along with the drink.
So choose fruits that are fun and tasty to eat. The texture of cranberries or raspberries make for a nice bite.
If you like this drink…
Before we get to the recipe: if you try this drink and like it, there are a few other drinks you should check out.
The C&T Cocktail features cranberry juice with gin, lime juice and orange flavored vodka. It has a very similar flavor to this one, but with less alcohol.
The Felicia cocktail pairs cranberry juice with apple flavored vodka. So simple, but so amazing.
The classic cocktail Sea Breeze blends grapefruit juice with cranberry juice and vodka.