KINGSPORT, Tenn. – One of the U.S’ most popular cocktails also just happens to be Kingsport’s best kept secret. The Long Island Iced Tea was actually first produced on Long Island in Kingsport during the 1920s. Nearly a century later, Kingsport is reclaiming its rightful place in history as the home of the original Long Island Iced Tea.
The drink came into existence in the 1920s during Prohibition in the United States when Charlie “Old Man” Bishop invented the concoction while living on Long Island in Kingsport.
In those days, the island was well known for its colorful characters and bootlegging activities. Bishop, known as an illegal liquor distiller, created what is now known as Long Island Iced Tea by mixing rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila with a bit of maple syrup. Some 20 years later, his son, Ransom, who was said to have operated a still on Long Island, tweaked his father’s original recipe by adding lemon, lime and cola.
Two Kingsport businesses, Little Cake and Bellafina Chocolates, have produced specialty items based on the Long Island Iced Tea recipe; Little Cake has created a delicious cupcake, while Bellafina has crafted a special chocolate truffle.
Long Island, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark District, is an island in the Holston River in Kingsport. Located across the main channel of the South Branch of the Holston River from the downtown area, the island is about four miles in length and approximately half a mile wide. Long Island, established in 1760, was an important site for the Cherokee Indians, colonial pioneers and early settlers of the region.
Long Island was used as a staging ground for people following the Wilderness Road into Kentucky. It was a sacred council and treaty site among the Cherokee people and was also where Daniel Boone, in 1775, began to clear the Wilderness Road. Most of the island lies within the corporate boundaries of Kingsport and at one time a number of homes were located there. These days about half of Long Island is now a park, complete with baseball fields and walking trails, while the other half is owned by Eastman Chemical.
Kingsport, known for its incredible outdoor life, is located in Northeast Tennessee and is home to beautiful Bays Mountain, Holston River and numerous parks and trails. Named an All-America City in 1997, Kingsport and Sullivan County have been designated as one of only 10 internationally recognized Safe Communities across the United States. The city has been named one of the top cities in the country for walking by Prevention magazine, one of the 15 best commuter cities in Tennessee, and named by Golf Digest as one of the best places to live in the United States for golfers.
For more information about Kingsport, visit www.visitkingsport.com.
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THE HIGH ROAD AGENCY
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