There’s a lot I don’t remember from college. My favorite professor’s name. My sorority’s secret handshake. The Chaucer I memorized. Ironically, however, I do remember my first Long Island Ice Tea.
I had just turned 21 and my boyfriend had been going on about how good the Long Island Ice Teas were at the 5 Olde Nugget Alley, our local dive. He took me, knowing that the kindly barkeep (whose name I now also forget) would comp LIITs to newly minted 21-year-olds. I ordered one, pondering the drink’s cartoonish reputation as a raging, unrefined glass of pure ethanol.
It was delicious—bright and citrusy with just a hint of caramel cola. The seemingly random orgy of spirits somehow melded into one strangely mellow flavor. It was a more impressive trick than any behind the back bartending flair I’d ever seen.