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Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane

The crowd was thick and rowdy, but it didn't deter me from my journey. A warm February New Orleans morning set the scene. At that point in my life, I'd never seen so much alcohol-induced celebration in one place before, let alone an entire city. After wading through the costumed crowds all day, I finally saw the iconic green sign on St. Peter Street. I pushed my way inside, and I immediately heard the storied dueling pianos. When I finally made it to the bar, I was ready to order the iconic libation this bar was known for the world over. Unfortunately, once sip left me wondering "This is the famous Huricane?!" I didn't spit my drink out, but I certainly don't remember enjoying it very much either.

Hello my thirsty readers! It's been fourteen years since my first New Orleans carnival, as I described above, and that first Hurricane still brings back haunted memories of cocktails past. Over the years, so many drinks have been given "glow-downs" of some sort. The Huricane is perhaps one of the biggest victims of this age old trend. If we are to break down where the Hurricane cocktail went wrong, we should probably figure out how it came to be in the first place.


As the story goes, the Hurricane was created at Pat O'Brien's, the famed French Quarter bar, sometime in the 1940's. In those days, certain spirits, like whiskey, were in short supply, but there was a huge abundance of rum. This is probably because it had a chance to stockpile over the thirteen years of Prohibition in the United States, but that's a story for another time. Other say the availability of certain ingredients was also affected by the supply shortage of WWII. Regardless of the true reason why, the owners of Pat O'Briens reputedly developed a large drink that would use some of this excess rum, while giving them a low-cost signature cocktail. After placing this new rum punch in a glass fashioned after the iconic hurricane lamps of the era, a new chapter in New Orleans cocktail history had been written, or had it been?

There are also stories of a Hurricane cocktail being served in New York during the 1939 World's Fair. Afterall, they did have a "Hurricane Bar" at the event. Another origin could be simply a "beefed-up" version of a Planters Punch. In the 1938 book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'Em, author Stanley Clisby Arthur makes mention of a Tangipahoa Planter's Punch, which used pineapple and grenadine, perhaps an early inspiration for the famed Hurricane? I guess I'll just leave you decide for yourself. You're here for the drinks afterall, aren't you?

Today, you'll find plenty of variations on the Hurricane, both good and bad, and the one found at Pat O'Brien's these days, with it's powdered Hurricane Mix, is a far cry from the original. Some bars go for the "kitchen sink" approach, giving the Hurricane the same treatment once incurred upon the Mai Tai, a sugary mix of every fruit juice on hand with a heavy-handed pour of rum. Most cocktail bars, on the other hand, tend to make them with passion fruit syrup, giving their drinks that tart tropical fruit pop that makes the Hurricane so alluring in the first place.

For me, the most important ingredient in this big curvy drink icon has to be the once-forgotten fassionola. Originally manufactured by the Johnathan English company, most people think of fassionola as the red-only variety, while the company actually produces a gold and green version as well. At it's core, fassionola is a complex tropical fruit syrup, that is a must-have for any serious cocktail bar that makes tropical drinks. At Hidden Harbor, we make three varieties ourselves, gold, red, and blue, the blue being a creation of our own warped minds. You see fassionola being referenced in a lot of Donn Beach classics as well. The 1937 Cobra's Fang could make another argument as a possible Hurricane inspiration as well, just a much smaller one. With Donn being a former New Orleanian himself, it's not far-fetched to imagine his influence being a factor somewhere along the line.

It's new been two years since we had a proper Mardi Gras Day, So I thought I'd share a few Hurricane-adjacent recipes to make up for last years lack of revelry. It's certainly never easy to weather hardships like a global pandemic, but here we are pushing through. If you ask me, that's reason enough to celebrate.


Classic Hurricane

2oz Aged Jamaican Rum

.5oz Overproof Jamaican Rum

.5oz Aged Guyanese Rum

2oz Fassionola

.25oz Grenadine

1oz Lemon Juice

1oz Orange Juice

Hurricane Glass

Shake with pebble ice and pour unstrained.

Top with pebble ice.

Garnish with mint sprigs, orange slice, and cherry.

I chose the more fruit-forward take for my version, using both orange juice and grenadine. To me, this just feels like a more elevated French Quarter feeling cocktail, then the three-ingredient version you'll find at a lot of cocktail bars. For an at-home fassionola recipe, try the one I listed in Recipe to Follow. If playing-chef isn't for you, I think Cocktail & Sons does a fabulous job with a commercially available version.


Tangipahoa Planter's Punch

(Adapted from Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix'Em)

2oz Aged Aged Virgin Islands Rum

.5oz Grenadine

.75oz Lime Juice

.75oz Orange Juice

.75oz Pineapple Juice

Zombie Glass

Shake with pebble ice and pour unstrained.

Top with pebble ice.

Garnish with pineapple fronds and orange slices.

I upped the ratio of the sweeter on this from the original, as I have found in the past, many of the older-classic recipes have a tenancy to read a bit tart by today's standards. While not exactly a Hurricane, you can see where some inspiration could have be taken at the time, leaning towards to boozy/fruity heavy hitter that was to come later.


When the Levee Breaks

Brian Maxwell 2015

1.5oz Barbarcourt 8 year

1.5oz Multi Island White Rum Blend (I use the Hidden Harbor blend from Maggie's Farm naturally)

.5oz Overproof Jamaican Rum

.75oz Falernum

1.5oz Fassionola

1oz Lemon Juice

1oz Orange Juice

4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

(.5oz Fernet Branca)

Hurricane Glass

Shake with pebble ice and pour unstrained.

Top with pebble ice.

Float .5oz Fernet Branca on top

Garnish with pineapple fronds, orange slice, cherries, and parasol.

I made this cocktail originally on the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as a more "modern/elevated" take on the classic. I felt like the modern drinking palate had shifted a bit, and perhaps a touch of spice could tie this fruit bomb together with the cocktails of today. Thought it feels like it was just yesterday, it's hard to believe this was seven years ago. Time sure flies when the world stands still.


My most thirsty friends, I hope you've enjoyed this little dive into one of the most butchered and misunderstood drinks in our rummy world. We once again find ourselves wrapped up in a world that rarely makes sense, with chaos around the globe. Thank for visiting my little slice of paradise for your own little escape. Until we meet again for cocktails and stories around the bar, take care of yourselves and keep shaking.

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