Charlotte’s Speakeasy
Charlotte’s Speakeasy Bar Manager Matthew Zeiss spares no rum in The Georgia Special. (Photo by Jennifer Zeiss)

It’s safe to say most Long Islanders are familiar with Long Island Iced Tea (LIIT), but they’re likely not as acquainted with its not-so-distant Southern cousin, The Georgia Special.

Both cocktails are known for being extra strong, but only one has made it onto the cocktail list at Charlotte’s Speakeasy, which has been making a name for itself in the speakeasy community on LI and beyond. The Georgia Special pulls inspiration from LIIT’s best characteristics and strengthens its faults.

“It’s on the sweeter side,” says Matthew Zeiss, bar manager at Charlotte’s Speakeasy, which can be found underneath Charlotte’s Frozen Yogurt on Main Street in Farmingdale and requires a password for patrons to gain entry. “It’s refreshing. It’s also very dangerous. It’s one of those drinks that you don’t realize how much liquor’s in there because it tastes very good; it tastes like juice.”

The drink was inspired by Robert Butt, who invented the Island’s most famous beverage at the Oak Beach Inn in the early 1970s. But Zeiss, who doesn’t particularly like the taste of LITT, which has five types of liquors, began floating ideas around and mixing ingredients in the hope of concocting his own potent cocktail — one that according to him would “taste good right off the bat.”

The essence of The Georgia Special, also known to many as Zeiss Tea (a nod to LIIT and Zeiss) is peach, a flavor that “goes with a lot of liquor,” he adds.

“I first developed The Georgia Special about four years ago,” Zeiss says. “Originally it had a brand of peach whiskey in it, however, it occurred to me to make a recipe that uses more common speedrack ingredients like Robert Butt’s Long Island Iced Tea to allow it to be made just about anywhere. I then switched out the peach whiskey for Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.”

After the bar manager found the right ingredient mix for the drink, he gave the cocktail its name, which he derived from the simple fact that Georgia’s known to many for its peaches. The Georgia Peach was already taken, so he improvised.

“The only hiccup in the recipe was adjusting the color to be more peachy than the yellow and browns that make up the main ingredients,” Zeiss notes. “I added the splash of cranberry to not only offset the sweet with a little tart but to also turn the color into a more pink/peach hue.”

Served over ice in a Collins glass, The Georgia Special is made up of Captain Morgan, Southern Comfort, Apricot Brandy, Peach Schnapps, pineapple juice, orange juice and a splash of cranberry juice. For the finale, it’s garnished with a peach when the fruit is in season. He uses oranges when peaches aren’t available.

The Georgia Special will give imbibers looking to get the party started early on in the night an extra kick almost immediately.

Guest feedback is often “‘This is dangerous,’ simply because it’s so disguised by its taste that you forget how potent it can be,” Zeiss says.

Charlotte’s Speakeasy is located at 294 Main St. in Farmingdale. It can be reached at 516-586-8530 or charlottesspeakeasy.com

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