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Kingsport declared victor in Long Island Iced Tea battle

Matthew Lane • Jun 13, 2019 at 10:14 PM

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In the battle between the states, the South rose to the challenge Thursday night, besting our northern friends over who has the best Long Island Iced Tea.

After the drinks were sampled and the votes were in, Kingsport claimed bragging rights and hoisted the winner’s trophy in the Battle of the Beverages.

“This has just been such a tremendous experience for both of us,” said Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport. “When we started talking about the Long Island Iced Tea first being created on Long Island in Kingsport, we had no idea it would generate so much attention.”

The long-awaited championship meeting in the Y’all vs. Yous Guys Long Island Iced Tea battle took place Thursday night at Bobby McKey’s Dueling Piano Bar near Washington, D.C. In a blind taste test of both versions of the Long Island Iced Tea, patrons in the bar chose the Kingsport drink over its New York counterpart by a 3-to-2 vote.

TEA FOR TWO

Last year, in early May, Visit Kingsport distributed a nationwide press release reclaiming its place in history as the home of the Original Long Island Iced Tea. In response, Butch Yamali, owner of Hudson’s on the Mile, disputed Kingsport’s claim and challenged Kingsport to a duel with bragging rights on the line.

Anxious to defend its honor and drink, Kingsport accepted the challenge. The first meeting took place last June in New York at Hudson’s on the Mile and the second was held in July here in Kingsport. Hudson’s on the Mile took the first round in New York, while Kingsport dominated the second round at home.

To settle the dispute, both towns agreed to a final showdown.

“Butch (Yamali) and all of his folks from Hudson’s on the Mile have been so much fun throughout these three contests. We’ve truly enjoyed building a relationship with them,” Teague said. “And, of course, we’re thrilled that our Original Long Island Iced Tea brought the championship back home to Kingsport. There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that our Original Long Island Iced Tea would come out on top.”

WHAT’S IN THIS GLASS?

Kingsport’s version of the Long Island Iced Tea, mixed up by Shane Winegar and Randy Ashens of East Coast Wings, consists of rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, maple syrup, lime, lemon, and cola. Charley “Old Man” Bishop is said to have first concocted the recipe for the popular drink on Long Island in Kingsport in the 1920s during Prohibition, and his son, Ransom, perfected it several years later.

Hudson’s on the Mile, which uses vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, and cola in its version of the Long Island Iced Tea, has always contended that the drink originated in the 1970s with Robert “Rosebud” Butt of Long Island, New York.

“We appreciate National Harbor and Bobby McKey’s for hosting us. It really was the perfect place for us to do this final competition,” Teague continued. “And I have to say, it feels really good to be going home as the Long Island Iced Tea champ, which just goes to show that you don’t mess with the original.”

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