Orange cocktail in tall, rounded glass with ice and cherries

On January 1st, I posted about the dish, Hoppin' John, and how, in many households, it is eaten on New Year's Day to bring good luck. I could have chosen any number of recipes, from around the world, that are eaten for the same reason- to bring luck in the new year. I think one of the reasons I chose Hoppin' John is because I've been thinking about my time down South for a few weeks. What got me thinking about my time living in Atlanta and New Orleans is the fact that a few weeks ago I got a craving for Hurricanes.

Anyone who has spent any time in New Orleans should be familiar with the bright red, potent drink carried all through the French Quarter in gigantic plastic "to-go" cups. It's the drink that made Pat O'briens famous. The story goes, that in the early 40's Scotch and Whiskey were hard to come by because of the war. Liquor distributors down south would force bar owners to purchase numerous cases of cheap rum, from the Caribbean just to get a case or two of the other liquors. Pat O'brien, facing a mountain of rum created a new drink using rum, orange juice, passion fruit syrup and lime juice, put it into hurricane shaped glasses (so named because they resembled hurricane lamps) and thus created the Hurricane. The drink became very popular among sailors as it was cheap and potent and remains popular today, not because it is cheap-Pat O'briens charges a hefty price-but because they still pack a mean kick.

As a young cook in New Orleans, my friends and I usually tried to stay away from the touristy spots in the Quarter, most often seeking out those shady, less wholesome (and that's saying a lot in a town not known for its wholesomeness) bars that border the Quarter. Occasionally though, we would venture into the heart of the Quarter in search of young ladies who had come to New Orleans to party. Hey….I was 23 years old, unattached, and we lived by the motto "work hard, play hard." We struck out way more often than not, but that was okay in our minds. We still had a great time….I think. Many of these nights found us hanging out at Pat O'briens, throwing back hurricanes with wild abandon. Luckily, my roommate and I lived just off of one of the major bus lines that ran 24/7 so we always had a ride home no matter what time of night or morning.

Looking back on those nights, at Pat O'briens, those hurricanes were pretty nasty. All alcohol bite with a lot of sugar and just enough fruit juice to make them palatable. The drink has come a long way from its early days and unfortunately it hasn't weathered well. Nowadays, you can even purchase a powdered drink mix so that you can take the taste of New Orleans home with you. Don't bother unless you are the kind of person who also doesn't mind substituting orange Kool-aid for orange juice in your Screwdrivers, Mimosas, or Captain & OJ.

Searching the web for recipes is quite confusing also. While there are a number of sites that give some great recipes, there are also a ton of sites out there that are offering up recipes, for Hurricanes, made with vodka, gin, tequila, amaretto, or worse, all of those alcohols together, in the same drink.

Just because a Hurricane is potent doesn't mean it's an "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of drink like a Long Island Iced Tea, Bahama Mama, or Alabama Slammer. Like so many of the cocktails created in the first half of the 20th century, the Hurricane requires only a handful of ingredients, mixed in proper proportion to create a well balanced drink. Be careful though, this drink is still quite potent and it's easy to overdo it as they don't taste nearly as strong as they are.


makes 1 drink

4 ounces gold rum*
3 ounces passion fruit juice or puree (I use Looza brand juice as that is what I can get most often, if you can get puree, then even better though if you use puree you might want to also add a splash of simple syrup as the puree is rather tart)
2 ounces orange juice
1/4 each lime
2 Tbsp. grenadine

Fill a hurricane glass or pint glass with ice and set aside. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients. Shake to mix then strain into prepared glass. Garnish with a cherry and orange slice.

*Many tropical style cocktails benefit from the use of gold or dark rums as opposed to white rums as gold and dark rums bring much more flavor to the drink and add a nice complexity. While this drink would still be good made with white rum, personally I would never substitute more than half the rum with white rum.