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Freeport, Tennessee bartenders plan Long Island iced tea duels

Elias Gomez, bartender and vice president of beverages

Elias Gomez, bartender and vice president of beverages at Hudsons on the Mile, mixes Long Island iced teas on May 10 in Freeport. Credit: Howard Schnapp

It’s on.

Bartenders from Long Island and Kingsport, Tennessee will battle for bragging rights to the “best Long Island iced tea” in two duels this summer.

In a recent media campaign, Kingsport’s tourism board claimed that the cocktail was not invented here on Long Island but in Long Island, Tennessee during Prohibition. The city says bootlegger, Charles Bishop, came up with the concoction 50 years before Robert Butt, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn said he came up with the drink.

After hearing Kingsport’s claim, a group of Freeport bartenders declared “war” on the city, and last month challenged the Southerners to pour a better Long Island iced tea.

“Not since the ‘Battle of Long Island’ in the Revolutionary War has Long Island’s honor been so challenged,” wrote Butch Yamali, owner of Hudsons on the Mile in Freeport. “We on Long Island celebrate our beaches, our accents, and most of all, our booze.”

The first duel will be June 27 at Hudsons on the Mile in Freeport and the second on July 13 in Kingsport, according to a news release from the Kingsport tourism board.

A bartender from each region will serve its version of the cocktail to five patrons for a blind taste test. The winners will receive a championship belt and bragging rights while the losers will clean the bars.

“The gauntlet has been thrown — let the beverage ‘brewhaha’ begin!” the news release reads.

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