New York, Tennessee towns both claim Long Island Iced Tea

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A group of bar owners and bartenders in Long Island, New York, have declared “war” on the tourism board of Kingsport, Tennessee, after the board said the iconic Long Island Iced Tea drink was created there and not on Long Island.

The New Yorkers have always maintained that the drink was created in 1972 at the Oak Beach Inn in the Hamptons, where a bartender named “Rosebud” Butt mixed together vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec and cola and gave it its famous name.

Bless your hearts, say the Southerners. They say the drink was actually born about 50 years earlier during Prohibition, when Charlie “Old Man” Bishop blended a concoction of rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila and a little bit of maple syrup. He did this on another Long Island, the one which sits in the Holston River in Kingsport, thus the name.

A battle royale

So the Northern Long Islanders are challenging the Southern Long Islanders to a duel of sorts: the “Battle of Long Island.”

In a letter from bar owner Butch Yamali to the mayor of Kingsport and the tourism board, the Northern bar owners and bartenders propose an iced tea contest be held, in which bar patrons would be blindfolded for a taste test for the ages.

The winners would nab the naming rights to the drink, once and for all, while the losers would be tasked with “cleaning their opponents bars and bathrooms after a evening of debauchery” and raising the winners’ state flag above their bar.

“Not since the Civil War has the South tried to take over our territory,” Yamali wrote. “This title should not be taken away from Long Island unjustly.”

The Southerners are game:

The letter (from Long Island) has not made it to us as of yet,” Amy Margaret McColl, Kingsport’s marketing manager, told CNN. “We are excited about this challenge and anxiously await their invitation for the battle of this beverage Once we receive, we will rally our troops, gather our ingredients and prepare to defend our original recipe.”

There’s no word yet, though, on which Long Island this momentous battle will be fought.