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RECIPE: Make A Hurricane Cocktail

A Hurricane cocktail served at Pat O’Brien’s
in New Orleans. Photo by Eric
Schmuttenmaer | Wikimedia.

  Hurricane Irene, working its way up the East Coast, shut down New York City beginning yesterday at noon. Everything is now closed, including things that never close, such as the public transit system and the theaters. The subway is not expected to be up and running until later on Monday. Instead of a “snow day,” we have two “hurricane days.”

So last night we threw a hurricane party and invited some friends who live in our apartment building for Hurricane cocktails—an appropriate name even though no hurricane was an inspiration for the drink.

The rum cocktail called a Hurricane was invented by New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien in the early 1940s.

He had too many cases of rum, because the wholesale distributors required the purchase of numerous cases of rum in order to buy a case of the more popular whiskeys. Scotch and Irish whiskeys were in limited supply because of World War II. There was still a glut of rum due to Prohibition (which lasted from 1920 to 1933).

Stuck with many cases of rum in the basement, O’Brien did what any businessman would do: He concocted a cocktail to use it. The curvy, footed cocktail glass he used, shaped like a hurricane lamp, was called hurricane glass. That’s how the drink got its name.

The Hurricane became a fixture in the French Quarter, with Pat O’Brien’s bar a tourist destination. Alas, with the use of cheap mixes to maximize profits, today’s French Quarter Hurricane is likely to be just another sweet, artificially colored drink, even at Pat O’Brien’s.

So if you want a good Hurricane, you’ll have to make your own.


Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 ounces dark rum* (we prefer Gosling’s Black Seal or the harder-to-find Coruba)
  • 1 ounce passion fruit syrup (the best one is from Fee Brothers)
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Orange slice and cherry flag (skewer)
  • Crushed ice
    1. Combine rum, passion fruit syrup and lemon juice in a shaker; shake vigorously until the mixing tin frosts.
    2. Strain into a hurricane glass over fresh crushed ice.
    3. Garnish with an orange and cherry “flag” (skewer) and serve.

    TIP: Try lime juice instead of lemon juice. It makes the cocktail perkier.

    As with almost every recipe, there are myriad variations on the Hurricane. Some use half dark rum, half light rum. Some throw in orange juice. Some substitute grenadine and simple syrup for the passion fruit syrup. Some vary from the spirit of the rum drink: You can find gin and vodka hurricanes and grapefruit juice or cranberry juice substituting for the passion fruit syrup or passion fruit juice.

    The choice is yours.

    *Rum is fermented from sugar cane and molasses. Light rum (also called silver rum or white rum) is fermented in steel and filtered and has a clear color. To make dark rum (also called amber rum or gold rum), the clear light rum is aged in charred oak barrels, acquiring a caramel color and rich layers of flavor. Rich, caramel dark rum is made by aging clear rum in charred oak casks, giving it a deep brown color and a full flavor. Spiced rum, often colored dark with caramel, is not a dark rum.


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