A Mardi Gras Must: How to Make a Hurricane

A Mardi Gras Must: How to Make a Hurricane
Courtesy of getty images, brent Hofacker

I honestly think it's good year-round.

Creating a hurricane can be done in two ways.

As the Coriolis Effect spins your storm into a spiral, it's a tall order for one person to warm an ocean and maintain a low-pressure system. Another way to do it is to combine rum with citrus and passion fruit in a curvy glass. While we know less about its formation, it seems like most people would prefer this one to the weather event. In addition to being easier to make, the consequences tend to be more individual and more humorous.

Located half a block off Bourbon St. in the French Quarter, Pat O'Brien's serves the Hurricane cocktail since 1942. Pat O'Brien's is hailed not only as the city's most famous (and possibly only) flaming courtyard fountain, but also as a pioneer within the dueling piano bar community. The Hurricane was also created as a result of a chronic shortage of rum, which is relevant to our discussion today.

Cocktails like this one have a surprisingly clear history. We know when, where, and why they were invented.

The original recipe used a syrup called "fassionola," which has since been discontinued, which was a bright, red syrup that evoked, we’re told, passionfruit fruit punch, but we don't know how it's made. It is commonly referred to as passionfruit syrup by people like Jeff "Beachbum" Berry and Martin Cate, so Hurricane is simply rum, lemon, and passionfruit syrup in their recipe. Some people take the fruit punch route, adding orange juice and grenadine, and others take it even further, adding Galliano and simple syrup and vanilla.

It is simply four ounces of Pat O'Brien's Amber Rum mixed with four ounces of useless Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix to make a Hurricane. Despite the vast differences between the recipes on the Internet, there seems to be one thing they all agree on: Pat O'Brien's version is not very good today. Since it's described as "weird tasting," Punch calls it "red-flavored," and Beachbum Berry himself calls it "noxious cherry-flavored bottled mix," we're left with a weird little dilemma. In addition to Pat O'Brien's lovely patio garden, we recommend ordering a beer if you go there. There are hurricanes approaching Mardi Gras and we do not know what to do with them.

It's important to determine what we are trying to accomplish before choosing the plan of attack. For example, I don't really care if the cocktail is candy-apple red; if it's important to you, you can buy fassionola on eBay. Despite Hannah's approach with orange and grenadine, I personally prefer the tiki version with just three ingredients, since the original featured a mélange of fruit instead of just one. Cointreau is a floral top note that harmonizes beautifully with the grenadine and passionfruit, so it won't taste like a bucket of juice.

As a matter of fact, there's nothing really to the Hurricane other than "it packs a punch" (though it does) or "it knocks you over" (though it does) or any of the other hammy things you'd expect. Hurricane lamps are served in glasses that resemble hurricane lamps. The best time to drink them is between Mardi Gras and the following week, when drinking one seems patriotic and religious. Although it's a bit juicy for a tiki drink, if you imagine yourself in New Orleans with eight sets of questionable beads, after leaving two baby grand pianos "dueling" each other in a musical competition and walking onto a patio with an 8-foot water fountain that is also on fire for some reason, it all makes more sense.


  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 0.5 oz. passion fruit puree or syrup
  • 0.5 oz. grenadine
  • 0.5 oz. Cointreau
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice

The ingredients should be added to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, shaken briefly to whip then poured into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.


Courtesy of Wine and Whiskey Globe

There's no doubt that the Hurricane is, and always has been, a staggering 4 ounces of rum. Since it's insane, I'm going to ignore it (the Cointreau is 80 proof, so it's still 2.5 oz. of spirits). You are welcome to double the recipe if you own a novelty 26-ounce hurricane glass and want to have the full experience, but I will not be liable for any damages you may incur.

Pat O'Brien's calls for "amber" rum, which is a good choice. Myer's Jamaican dark rum works well as well. A light and accessible rum like Flor de Caña 7 or Cruzan Aged would be perfect here, something rich but not too deep or too oaky.

If you are lucky enough to find passion fruit, you will have the best and fullest flavor, but it’s a luxury and not everyone has access to it. The perfect puree passion fruit concentrate, which is exceptional in cocktails, bright and almost electrically tart, and the balance of the above recipe is predicated on it, is the one we always use in my bar. Funkin Passion Fruit is recommended in the book Smuggler's Cove. Liber & Co. and Small Hands Foods have a great passion fruit syrup, but remember, it will add sweetness as well, so you'll need to reduce the grenadine amount.

There are many ways in which you can make your own grenadine. You can do so by dissolving equal parts sugar in pomegranate juice, or you can do it in a complicated way, like this. There are also great grenadines from Liber & Co. and Small Hands Foods, as well as many others, if you can't be bothered. Don't use Rose's, which contains Sodium Benzoate and Red #40 before natural and artificial flavors.

A lot of fructose can overwhelm this cocktail, as I mentioned earlier. The distillation of orange peels in Cointreau creates a bright, light, clean orange presence that is reminiscent of those wispy clouds that cast no shade on a sunny day. I do recommend Cointreau in particular, or Combier. Less triple-secs will be too heavy.

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