Applebee’s new strategy comes after executives recently decided to shutter more than 100 locations amid a 6.2 percent decline in same-store sales. Those are numbers that would drive anyone to drink.
Still, you have to love the chutzpah of a mid-level chain that promotes $1 Long Island Iced Teas, a drink created in the 1970s, back when excess was still fashionable. Think: Bell bottoms wide enough to hide kittens. Afros larger than beach balls. Coke spoons around the neck for easy “bathroom breaks.” Guitar solos with violin bows.
For those who don’t remember — a class that includes anyone who ever finished a Long Island Iced Tea — the classic drink combines one shot of vodka, one shot of gin, one shot of rum, one shot of tequila, one shot of triple sec, sour mix and a “little Coke just to make the color.” (Though some bars tone down the potency to 1/2 ounce of each liquor.)
That quote comes from Bob “Rosebud” Butt, the acknowledged inventor of the Long Island Iced Tea. In this video on the drink’s origination, Butt said he developed it at the Oak Beach Inn East bar as part of a contest to create a cocktail featuring triple sec, the orange-flavored liqueur. Yup, the Long Island Iced Tea is all about the triple sec.
A proper Long Island Iced Tea, Butt noted, includes “everything white at the bartender’s station,” which seems appropriate. After downing one, the imbiber turns white, too.
Despite cocktail mavens’ attempt to dress up the Long Island Iced Tea, the drink is still known mainly for its ability to rot brain cells. If you need a reminder of this, all you have to do is turn to Twitter, the slam book of the Internet.
“I’ve had worse,” said David Wondrich, the esteemed author and cocktail historian, about Long Island Iced Teas. “But I grew up on Long Island in the ’70s and drank them at its home, the Oak Beach Inn, and in NYC in the ’80s. It is a stupid drink: If you want that much alcohol, I learned, order a dry martini and drink like an adult.”
Wondrich offered his words via a private Twitter chat. He quickly added that, “I don’t think people who drink LIITs are stupid. In fact, I won’t say it’s a ‘stupid’ drink, technically speaking. But it’s deceptive and I don’t care for deceptive.”
Truth be told, Wondrich is sympathetic to the drink’s multi-liquor allure after a long day at work. Likewise, Applebee’s seems to understand that Long Island Iced Teas are alcoholic clickbait to tired workers. Someone at the chain even came up with the brilliant idea to drop a single “i” from the cocktail’s acronym, giving us the wink-and-nudge name, Dollar L.I.T.
The play on words cannot be accidental: The holidays are all about lights. Christmas lights. The star of Bethlehem. Candlelight services.
Now, this December, we’ll have the Dollar L.I.T. to light up our world.