Photo By: Julia D’Alkmin
Long Island Bartenders participated in the final round of the Long Island Iced Tea Challenge, a challenge to determine the origins of the famed Long Island Ice Tea drink between Kingsport, Tenn and Long Island, NY. They are calling an investigation by the City of Kingsport Mayor John Clark, after judges chosen to determine the original “Long Island Iced Tea” winner were possibly rigged by Visit Kingsport, the tourism entity associated with the Tennessee bartending crew. Butch Yamali, bartender and owner of Hudson’s on the Mile in Freeport, NY, has called the competition a possible fraud, after his team was excluded from location negotiations and had no say in judge selection. Long Island bartenders traveled to Washington DC to compete against the City of Kingsport Tourism Bureau. The Long Island bar staff is saying that the contest was null and void and that the Kingsport team possibly wasted tens of thousands of tourism dollars on a booze trip for a fake contest.
Long Island Bartenders say they spent tens-of-thousands of dollars of private funds to make the trip to Washington DC for the fraudulent competition — all for the manager of the restaurant who can have personal ties to Kingsport, TN, to be the deciding vote. The New Yorker’s were placed in a corner far away from where visitors had easy access to their cocktails and have called foul after none of the judges wore blindfolds, unlike in the previous two competitions. The reason for the judges to wear blindfolds was to ensure there was no favoritism towards the mixologist.
According to the New York bartenders, the competition was rigged from the start. The Visit Kingsport team received discounted hotels and restaurants from the local tourism bureau while in town, including Bobby McKeys, the site of the competition, which was supposed to be a “neutral location.”
The New York bar staff is evaluating legal avenues against the fraudulent contest and intends on sending Visit Kingsport a cease and desist letter as they claim to have won the contest.
The following statement was released by Butch Yamali, Owner of Hudson’s on the Mile:
“This was a fraud, a waste of time, and a waste of our hard-earned money. We embarked on this journey expecting fairness, but we got a rigged competition in order to deface the legacy of a good man, the true inventor of the Long Island Iced Tea, ‘Rosebud’ Butt, in the name of a cheap, false narrative from Kingsport, TN. I am calling for an investigation and will be in touch with Tennessee State Officials about their unethical conduct. We demand that Visit Kingsport apologize, and refund our hard earned money spent while in Washington DC for this rouse. Kingsport, TN, has not heard the end of this fight — in fact, its just the beginning. Shameful actions done by the Visit Kingsport should be ashamed and investigated,” said Yamali.