I love using Mardi Gras as an excuse to drink Hurricanes. Of course, you can drink them at any time of year, but Mardi Gras is mixed up with New Orleans in my mind, and no drink is so quintessentially New Orleans as the Hurricane.
The original Hurricane came about post-prohibition at Pat O’Brien’s, a restaurant on Bourbon Street (which both my grandmothers used to go to while they were in college at Newcomb). The short version of the story is that, at some point in the 1940s, Pat O’Brien’s ended up with an absurd quantity of rum and developed a rum-passionfruit-lemon drink that was served in a large hurricane glass. Here’s a comprehensive post about the back story (and while you’re on that blog, check out their Liquor Cabinet tab…holy cow!).
Unfortunately, though, the Hurricane that is widely available today around New Orleans isn’t good. At all. It’s insanely sweet and a bright, bright red color. It tastes a lot like liquid cherry Jello (which is so recognizable that, even though I haven’t had cherry Jello in about 20 years, I knew the flavor immediately!). Here’s a to-go package of the mix that’s found around New Orleans (amazingly, my friend Sara had this at her house in Berkeley):
Of course I had to check out the ingredients:
It’s not clear how the original rum-passionfruit-lemon concoction turned in today’s Hurricane. For starters, the original wasn’t red and didn’t have a cherry flavor. I assume at some point the passionfruit syrup in the original recipe got subbed out for grenadine. Also, the original just had lemon juice, not a host of other fruit juices. Here’s one modern-day Hurricane recipe from Emeril, which you can see has its fair share of fruit juice (and yes, this is the second time where I’ve referenced Emeril in our blog’s short life…here’s the first).
My own thoughts (though, I’m really not sure on this one…totally conjecture) are that somewhere along the way the original Hurricane became conflated with a cocktail called the Zombie. The Zombie was developed in New York City in the 1930s and, according to one of my cocktail books, popularized at a bar called Hurricane during the 1939 World’s Fair. The modern-day Hurricane has an ingredient list much more akin to the Zombie than the original Hurricane. Given that the drinks rose to popularity at about the same time, and one was served in a glass called a hurricane and one was served at a bar called Hurricane, I think the recipes may have unwitting merged.
But you know, whatever the reason, I’m glad the drink evolved as it did. Because now we have a version of the Hurricane cocktail that tastes great and uses ingredients that are a little easier to find (I don’t think I’ve seen passionfruit syrup in my normal shopping spots before). I picked up everything during a quick stop at Trader Joe’s (including the rum).
So, here’s my version of the Hurricane. It’s fruity without being overly sweet. Don’t be off-put by the dose of grenadine — that homemade pomegranate grenadine is gooooood.
- 1.5 oz light rum
- 1.5 oz dark rum
- 1 oz orange juice (or blood orange juice if you want to up the red factor…thanks to a reader for this awesome suggestion)
- 0.5 oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz real pomegranate grenadine (make your own!)
- juice of 1 lime
Shake and serve over ice in a tall glass (I didn’t have any sort of highball glass or hurricane, though, so I served it chilled and up in the stemless champagne glasses our amazing real estate agent gave us when we bought our house…one day we’ll expand our barware!).
Here’s the homemade Hurricane (half drank — couldn’t wait!) versus one from the mix. If you add more grenadine you can get closer to the original color, but then I think the drink gets too sweet (Warning: never, ever drink the mix without ice like we did! It needs lots of it! Neither Sara or I could finish our mix-Hurricanes…just too sweet and Jello-tasting):
Enjoy your new-and-improved Hurricanes…and have a fun Mardi Gras!