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It’s a real New Orleans thing to refer to a weather condition of mass destruction and make a cocktail out of the thought.
The drink is called a Hurricane. And as with most parts of our culinary history, what we claim as an authentic New Orleans creation is probably not. Most certainly the Hurricane, the drink from Pat O’Brien’s, is not the only version.
There is conjecture that the Hurricane, American version, was really “invented” at the Hurricane Bar in New York City in 1939. The more famous iteration of this cocktail was “invented” at Pat O’Brien’s on St. Peter Street around 1943.
Over the years there have been many cocktail recipes which have been named “Hurricane.” The Pat O’Brien’s version was actually an attempt to purchase good Scotch whiskey during World War II. O’Brien and his partner, Charlie Cantrell, were forced to purchase a large amount of not-so-good rum to earn the right to buy the Scotch.
Keep in mind that New Orleans is close to the Caribbean, which has an abundance of sugar cane and rum is the resulting product. But right after Prohibition and during the Great War, distilling quality in that part of the world was not important. The resulting spirit was okay as long as it was within a wide range of outcomes.
O’Brien figured he would be able to sell his stash of rum more quickly and at a higher profit if he created a cocktail adding lots of sugars. The idea of placing more sugar into a sugar-cane based drink was an easy fix. People do love sugar. Then the added novelty of a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp, which the customer could keep as a souvenir, was pure genius.
And, back in those days, no one was really concerned if the Hurricane cocktail even bore any similarity from one watering hole to the next. Drinks and drink names were swapped around like Storyville ladies on a Saturday night.
BASIC HURRICANE COCKTAIL RECIPE
- 1 1/2 oz. each of light and dark rum
- 1oz. passion fruit syrup
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
COMPLEX HURRICANE COCKTAIL RECIPE
- 1.5 ounces light rum
- 1.5 ounces dark rum
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice (NOT Rose’s or RealLime)
- ¼ cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon grenadine
- Cherries with stems, and orange slice to garnish
- Ice cubes
Thanks to Darcy O’Neil, Art of the Drink, 2011
Along the way, all manner of additives has been used, including bitters, simple syrup, unsweetened pineapple juice, and other liquids which add to the sweetness of the final drink.
Let’s also take a look at what you are likely to receive in the Bahamas when you ask for a Hurricane.
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 151-proof rum
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) coffee liqueur
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Irish cream liqueur (such as Bailey’s)
- 1 teaspoon orange liqueur
- Garnishes: orange wedges, cocktail umbrella
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Cover and shake vigorously until chilled, about 30 seconds.
- Strain into an ice-filled hurricane glass or other tall glass.
- Garnish, if desired.
Thanks to Coastal Living, 2017.
Just when you think you know a cocktail, someone comes along and changes the recipe, maybe even improves on the previous version. Exasperating and confusing, but fun.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.