Final battle in Long Island Tea competition set for today

J. H. Osborne • Jun 13, 2019 at 9:02 AM

KINGSPORT — The long-awaited championship meeting in the Y'all vs. Youse Guys Long Island Iced Tea battle between the Northern Long Islanders from New York and the Southern Long Islanders from Kingsport is scheduled for today on neutral ground. The third and final round of the competition over who has the best Long Island Tea will take place at Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar in National Harbor, Maryland.

Officials from Tennessee's Visit Kingsport, the city's tourism organization, and Hudson's on the Mile — the popular restaurant and venue on Long Island, New York, that challenged Kingsport's claim that it was the home of the Original Long Island Iced Tea — agreed that National Harbor was the perfect location for the tiebreaker. Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar overlooks the Potomac River and is just minutes away from Washington, D.C., at National Harbor.

Visit Kingsport made a national announcement in May 2018 “reclaiming” the Model City’s place in history as “the home of the Original Long Island Iced Tea.” Their story: Charley "Old Man" Bishop is said to have first concocted the recipe for the popular drink on Long Island in Kingsport in the 1920s during Prohibition, and his son, Ransom, perfected it several years later.

Butch Yamali, owner of Hudson's on the Mile, disputed Kingsport's claim, asserting that Robert "Rosebud" Butt of Long Island, New York, invented the Long Island Iced Tea in 1972. The bar owner then challenged Kingsport to a duel with bragging rights on the line.

Kingsport accepted the challenge. On June 27 at Hudson's on the Mile in New York, that bar’s version was declared the winner. A second round followed at Riverfront Seafood in Kingsport on July 13, and the Kingsport version, said to have been perfected by Ransom Bishop and including maple syrup, was declared the winner.

As in the first two contests, this third and final face-off will feature a blind tasting of both versions of the drink made by bartenders from Kingsport and Hudson's on the Mile. The official third round will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Earlier that evening, at 6:30, the first 100 patrons through the door at Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar will be given a sample of each drink, then asked to cast their votes with the People's Choice honor up for grabs.

"We are going to National Harbor to win," said Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport. "More Importantly, we get to share our story with people who don't know who or where we are. We'll encourage them to visit and try the Original Long Island Iced Tea."

The Kingsport Farmers Market is beginning its “Evening at the Market” series this Thursday and Visit Kingsport will show the live, tie-breaking battle for the best Long Island Iced Tea during the event. This is the first time the market is open during evening hours (5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) and more than 40 vendors are expected to be on hand, along with food and craft beer vendors. A live bluegrass concert by the band Lonesome River begins at 6 p.m.

The tea battle will be shown after the concert.



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