Food

Here’s How Columbia Room Created a Virgin Long Island Iced Tea

Hold the vodka. And the gin. And the rum. And the tequila.

Photograph by Scott Suchman
Dry January Guide

About Dry January Guide

This article is part of our guide to Dry January around DC. Today’s bartenders are catering to the sober—and the sober-curious—with more sophisticated options than ever. Dry January doesn’t have to mean bland January. Here’s how to (not) drink your way through Washington in style.

The flavors of a Long Island iced tea might best be described as wow, there’s a lot of alcohol in here. But Paul Taylor, beverage manager at Shaw’s Columbia Room, set out to create a booze-free take on the drink—which typically includes vodka, gin, tequila, rum, Triple Sec, sour mix, and Coke.  (Yes, a Long Island Iced Tea you’ll actually remember drinking!) Here’s how he did it:

  • In lieu of Coke, the bar makes its own cola syrup infused with baking spices, coriander, and orange.
  • Taylor homed in on the dominant flavors of each spirit, then incorporated them into a tea. Coconut water gives the drink some body and the sweetness of rum. Pine oil adds the woodsiness of gin. Green bell pepper mimics tequila’s vegetal flavor. And a little salt brings a “rounder mouthfeel.”
  • Instead of a bottled sour mix, Taylor uses a blend of fresh lemon and lime juices and sugar.
  • The drink is carbonated, so it’s a lot fizzier than your usual Long Island iced tea.
  • The lemon wedge, thankfully, hasn’t been sitting in a garnish tray for 12 hours.

This article appears in the January 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.