How to make a pocket-friendly Long Island Iced Tea

Until recently I didn’t understand the purpose of those little sampler bottles of liquor they sell at the register.

Miniatures, or “nips,” as they are also known, are supposed to be for promotional and sampling purposes, but there’s plenty of other ways to use them.

Just last week I was at Liquor City and the guy behind me in line was cradling about 40 in his arms like countless precious, tiny babies. I turned to him and thought aloud, “This guy knows how to have fun.” I was right, because they were for a piñata, and as everyone knows, piñatas are the epitome of fun.

I’ve recently come up with a less rad but fun use for them: creating mixed drinks I normally would never be able to afford. I can’t afford a bottle of St-Germain, and I also don’t need 30 French Gimlets worth of it.

Nips let us experiment with different cocktails and combinations without having to really invest.

If there’s one drink that’s popular with young people and really can’t be made at home without an investment of more than $100, it’s the Long Island Iced Tea. Comprised of at least vodka, tequila, gin, white rum and triple sec, there are several components. The infamous drink can collectively drain your wallet.

I don’t need a lot of Long Island Iced Teas. In fact, I only need one of them. The recipe I use calls for seven and a half ounces of liquor, or five standard drinks. Consumed in under an hour, the average drinker should get a pretty serious buzz going after just one. Truthfully, I can’t really suggest that anyone drink more than one or two of these.

The Long Island Iced Tea is one of very few cocktails that many nicer bars won’t serve. Not necessarily because it’s difficult to make, it’s not, but because it’s simply too much liquor to serve in a single glass.

For less than $10 you can get all of the ingredients to a Long Island Iced Tea. You can even spice it up, trying out different flavored vodkas and rums and different liqueurs. It’s a great pregame drink, and it can be a fun activity to mix and match ingredients and see which one you prefer.