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A Yummy Hurricane

I’m writing this the week after our visit from Hurricane Dorian. Though she didn’t cause much damage, she did make it next to impossible for me to figure out what day it is, so my deadline kind of caught me without having planned on a topic. But one can often take inspiration from one’s challenges, so this month we’re going to learn about the famous Hurricane cocktail and the people and places that created it.

The Hurricane is a simple mix of rums and fruit juices, passion, lime and orange to be specific. It’s nothing special, the idea of mixing rum with fruit juice is as old as rum itself, but the stories around the Hurricane’s creation make it a legendary classic cocktail.

The Hurricane is the invention of a man named Pat O’Brien from New Orleans. He is co-founder of the famous Pat O’Brien’s bar on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. The bar’s website has a bunch of interesting history.

Pat O’Brien’s was founded in 1933, at the end of Prohibition, but its predecessor was a speakeasy owned by O’Brien where the password to get in is rumored to have been “storm’s brewin’”, hence the Hurricane name that would come up later.

During World War Two, domestic liquor was rare because distilleries were used to produce supplies needed for the war effort. Rum from the Caribbean, however, was plentiful, especially in a Gulf Coast port city like New Orleans. Local distributors would make customers buy huge quantities of rum before they would allow them to purchase the rare bourbon and whiskey people craved.

O’Brien needed a way to sell all this rum he had. After some testing with various fruit juices, he invented the Hurricane, and served it in an iconic glass shaped like a hurricane lantern. People ate it up, or drank it up I guess, and they still do today. This is largely due to the fact that, and I can talk from experience here having enjoyed a Hurricane at Pat O’Briens, it is delicious.

In a city with an entire neighborhood devoted to great bars, Pat O’Brien’s still stands out. It’s in an 18th century home that was converted into a theatre and then back into a home and then into the bar. Homes of that time in New Orleans were often built right up to the sidewalk, with no yard, but had an open courtyard in the center instead. Pat O’Brien’s is like this, with the courtyard featuring a fountain with flames as well as water. It’s quite the sight at night.

As well as being a stunning location and home to a famous cocktail, Pat O’Briens has yet another claim to fame, according to its website. When the bar moved into its current location, they had room for two baby grand pianos. The former place had two pianos, something not uncommon with ragtime venues, but now they had baby grands. Audiences loved this as two piano players would challenge each other to be the audience favorite. At Pat’s this began to involve audience participation, as folks would call out requests for each player to perform. And thus the Dueling Piano Bar was invented!

Now that you know the history of the drink, and you live in an area afflicted with its namesake, I bet you want to want make your own Hurricane, don’t you? Well, here’s a recipe straight from the website.

2 oz. Light Rum

2 oz. Dark Rum

2 oz. Passion Fruit Juice

1 oz. Orange Juice

1/2 oz. Lime Juice

1 tbsp simple syrup

1 tbsp grenadine

Shake it all with ice and strain over ice, then garnish with a cherry and orange slice. See, simple as can be. But also delicious.

The Bahamas have their own cocktail called a Hurricane, but it’s nothing like the New Orleans version. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it sounds good, if a bit powerful. It combines a quarter cup 151-proof rum with coffee liqueur, Irish cream liquor and orange liqueur.

The Bahamians don’t bother to water it down with any fruit juice, this monster is straight alcohol. But after the mess they’ve just been through with Dorian, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone there a good stiff cocktail!

In all seriousness, the Bahamas are really hurting and could use our help. One of the best ways to ensure your donations are being used where they are needed most is to contribute directly to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund, set up by their National Emergency Management Agency. Checks can be made payable to “Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund” and mailed directly to:


P.O. Box N-7147

Gladstone Road

Nassau, Bahamas

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