There’s this idea that chain restaurants in New York City are only for tourists. As the trope goes, a real New Yorker would never be caught dead in some podunk sit-down restaurant that’s available off every highway exit in the country. Why subject themselves to such mundanity when the city has so many unique, independent establishments to choose from?
Not being from New York, I’d never dare call myself a New Yorker. But I do live here, and I do have an earnest desire to explore what this city has to offer. Sometimes, though, I just want to experience something stupid. Something only a massive conglomerate with hundreds of locations and an oversized menu could afford to offer. Something like the Mountain Dew Legendary Long Island Iced Tea from Buffalo Wild Wings.
The Mountain Dew Legendary Long Island is a product of Buffalo Wild Wings’ latest partnership with Mountain Dew (stylized Mtn Dew, but whatever), and it features a special flavor. Per the Mountain Dew Fandom Wiki, Mountain Dew Legend tastes like “blackberry citrus with ginger,” and is available exclusively at BWW. The Long Island is their alcoholic take on the flavor, combining traditional rum, tequila, vodka, gin, triple sec and sour mix with the Dew. It’s worth noting that this Mountain Dew flavor is also black in color, making it a truly unholy concoction that I had to try.
So, over the weekend, I made the journey to the nearest Buffalo Wild Wings, which was near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Having never been to a BWW anywhere — nor a chain sit-down restaurant in New York — I was unsure what to expect. It was surprisingly busy, though — when I arrived at 6 p.m. on a Saturday, the restaurant was bustling, and I quickly sat down and ordered the beverage I’d made such a pilgrimage for.
The Legendary Long Island arrived exactly as advertised — near-black on the top fading into a light lime-juice color on the bottom that quickly mixed into a deep, Halloween-y shade of dark green. Honestly, it tasted excellent — slightly less sweet and more orange-y than traditional Mountain Dew or Long Islands. Unsurprisingly, you couldn’t taste the alcohol at all. That’s the whole point of a Long Island, though — to get as much booze in you as possible with minimal alcohol taste.
That said, BWW’s pours were a little light. After two Legendarys, I was buzzed, but not to the level I’d anticipated. Still, I enjoyed it more than I likely would have had I ordered either a traditional Mountain Dew or Long Island. By the time I wrapped up my two cocktails (paired, of course, with a set of 15 wings), the restaurant had filled entirely. There was even a line to get in. I’m also doubtful these were just tourists. If I had to guess, I’d say they were people who live in New York and wanted to eat some wings, much like myself.
Either way, I’ve long had a deep respect for Mountain Dew. It’s the people’s beverage, aligning with a long history of rural and working-class consumers. Notably, it was first created as a mixer for whiskey as well, or maybe even moonshine. As such, it’s not new for Mountain Dew to be consumed with alcohol, but it still seems to have been somewhat of a neglected beverage in the world of booze.
In fairness, some of that had already changed this spring when Mountain Dew launched a “hard” version in select states, but the results were underwhelming. With none of the caffeine of regular Mountain Dew and only five percent ABV, you might as well just drink a White Claw. A traditional Long Island, on the other hand, is the ideological opposite of a White Claw. With five different liquors in it, there’s gotta be at least two ounces of booze in there, and topping it all off with Coke is the sweet antithesis of White Claw’s 100 calories and zero grams of sugar. And so, the BWW Legendary Long Island solves both these problems — swap Coke for black Mountain Dew, and you’re ready to raise sugary hell.
But what the experience of drinking the Legendary Long Island at this particular Buffalo Wild Wings highlighted wasn’t just the chaos of the beverage itself, but the universal appeal of what was ultimately a rather mundane experience. Much of the “real” New York does in fact want to enjoy wings and dumb cocktails in a casual, bloated sports bar setting, and even in regions with a wealth of other options, there’s something comforting about resigning yourself toward the ease of BWW, the Long Island and Mountain Dew.
Would I call the experience “legendary,” as its name suggests? Nah — I’d call it delightfully average at best. But isn’t that what we’re after when we order a drink like this? Finding joy in the tackiness of everyday life is something none of us are above, and I’d drink to that any day.