If you’ve ever had one of “those nights” thanks to Long Island Iced Teas, imagine waking up the next morning and saying, “man, I had one too many Kingsport Iced Teas.” Well, if Amy McColl, the Marketing Manager for Visit Kingsport is to be believed, that is the popular drink’s rightful name.
According to McColl, the Long Island Iced Tea was actually invented by an illegal liquor distiller named Charlie “Old Man” Bishop in the 1920s, on a far lesser-known island in the Holston River near Kingsport, TN. Visit Kingsport even released a video, featuring a man acting as Ransom Bishop (“Old Man” Bishop’s son), describing the creation of the drink, and claiming that Old Man Bishop was mixing the drink “50 years before [the New Yorkers] even thought about it.”
But New Yorkers aren’t giving up their claim so easily. Maggie Lacasse, director of communications at New York’s Discover Long Island, maintains that Robert “Rosebud” Butt created the drink on Long Island, NY in the 1970s, during a contest while working at Long Island’s Oak Beach Inn. She also claims that since the Kingsport iced tea is made with maple syrup, instead of triple sec, it isn’t a true Long Island Iced Tea.
Fighting words, for sure. And now the two areas are about to have a contest of their own. A bartender in Long Island, NY has challenged bartenders from Kingsport to a competition to see who can mix the better drink. There’s no doubt that the Long Island Iced Tea has been responsible for many drunken brawls over the years, and though a lot of pride is at stake for both New York and Tennessee, we can only hope they settle their differences peacefully.