How to Make a Classic New Orleans Rum Cocktail – Robb Report
There are two ways to craft a Hurricane.
The former is a tall order for one person, as it involves warming an ocean and maintaining a low-pressure system as Earth’s Coriolis Effect spirals your storm. The other way is to combine a heroic amount of rum with citrus and passion fruit (and maybe more) in a curvaceous glass. In fact, we know less about the formation of this latest hurricane, but I suspect most people would still prefer it to the weather event. Not only is it easier to do, but its inevitable spinoffs are more individual and tend to be a lot more fun.
The Hurricane (the cocktail) is a creation of a New Orleans institution called Pat O’Brien’s, which is half a block from Bourbon St. in the French Quarter, as is since 1942. Pat O’Brien’s actually has a number of claims to fame – they have the most famous (and probably only) flamboyant courtyard fountain in town, and they’re hailed as innovators within the dueling piano bar community. In addition to these, and most relevant to our discussion today, they created the hurricane in the 1940s, according to the story, as something to do with a chronic oversupply of rum.
This is unusually cut and dry for cocktail origin stories. We know who invented it, we know where, we even know why. What we don’t know is how it’s made, or at least how it is has been made. The original recipe used a syrup called “fassionola”, almost abandoned now, which was bright red and reminiscent, we are told, of a passion fruit punch. Many highly respected tiki like Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Martin Cate go ahead and call it passion fruit syrup, so their Hurricane recipe is as simple as rum, lemon, and passion fruit syrup. passion. Others, like famed New Orleans bartender Chris Hannah, take the fruit punch approach, adding orange juice and grenadine, and some go even further, with Galliano and syrup. simple and vanilla, etc.
For Pat O’Brien’s part, these days they’ll happily tell you that a hurricane is 4 oz. of “Pat O’Brien’s Amber Rum” and 4 oz. of “Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix”, which, of course, is of no use to anyone. In fact, while the recipes online are largely at odds with each other, the one thing they seem to be united on is that the version you’ll get at Pat O’Brien today isn’t very good – Serious Eats calls it “strange tasting”, Punch calls it “best described as ‘red-flavored'”, and Beachbum Berry himself writes that it’s a “harmful cherry-flavored bottled blend “, adding of Pat O’Brien that you should “opt for the pretty patio garden, but order a Beer.” This leaves us with a weird little dilemma. It’s Mardi Gras soon and we want to do Hurricanes, but we literally don’t know how.
In order to choose the plan of attack, we must establish what we are aiming for. For starters, it’s not important to me personally that the cocktail is candy apple red – if that’s important to you, grab a bottle of fassionola from Ebay. The tiki version with just three ingredients is great, but the original had a mix of fruits instead of just one, so I personally lean towards Hannah’s approach with the orange and grenadine. And so it doesn’t taste like a bucket of juice, I like Cointreau in place of orange juice, offering floral top notes to pair with the grenadine and fruit of the passion.
Turns out the hurricane isn’t named as such because it “packs a punch” (although it does) or because it “knocks you down” (although that might be the case) or one of the things you expect. It is named after the glass they serve it in, which resembles a hurricane lamp. As for when to drink one, the season for this particular hurricane is the two weeks before Mardi Gras, when it seems like a patriotic and religious obligation to have at least one. Yes, even for a tiki drink it’s a little juicy…but if you imagine you’re in New Orleans, wearing eight sets of pearls of dubious provenance, having just left two small grand pianos “fighting” in tete-a-tete lead the musical face-to-face and walk on a patio where an 8-footer. Cooper’s water fountain is also on fire for some reason, everything starts to make a little more sense.
- 2oz. old rum
- 0.5oz. passion fruit purée or syrup
- 0.5oz. grenadine
- 0.5oz. Cointreau
- 0.5oz. lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker with crushed ice. Swirl briefly to whip, then empty contents into a domed “Hurricane” glass and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Proportions: Another thing everyone agrees on is that the Hurricane is, and always has been, a whopping 4 oz. of rum. This is nonsense, so my recipe ignores it (the Cointreau has an 80 proof, making it a considerable 2.5 oz of spirits, which is more than enough). If you have a novelty 26 oz. hurricane glass and want the proper experience, feel free to double the recipe, but I make up for the consequences.
Rum: Pat O’Brien’s claims an “amber” rum, which works. Just like a not too funky Jamaican rum like Myer’s. What you want here is some richness from the rum but not too much depth or too much oak – something light and approachable like Flor de Caña 7 or even Cruzan Aged works great.
Passion fruit: Passion fruit is the hardest to find and the most needed. I guess I should say that if you have access to it, real passion fruit will add the best and fullest flavor, but that’s a luxury and not everyone does. In my bar, we always use Perfect Puree Passion Fruit Concentrate, which is exceptional in cocktails, bright and almost electrically tart, and the balance of the recipe above depends on it. The Smuggler’s Cove book recommends Funkin Passion Fruit. If the fresh is too hard, you can get a great passion fruit syrup from Liber & Co. and Small Hands Foods, but remember that a syrup will also add sweetness, so you’ll need to reduce the amount of grenadine.
Grenadine: It’s very possible to make your own grenadine, which can be as simple as dissolving equal parts sugar in POM pomegranate juice, or as complicated as something like that. If you can’t be bothered, Liber & Co. and Small Hands Foods also make great grenadine, as do many others. Please don’t use Rose’s, whose ingredient list you need to skip sodium benzoate and red #40 before you get to “natural and artificial flavors.”
Cointreau: As mentioned, this cocktail can suffer from a barrage of too much fructose. Cointreau is a good solution to this, as distilling the orange peel results in a bright, light and clean orange presence, like those wispy clouds on a sunny day that are too tall and thin to cast any shadow. I recommend Cointreau in particular, or Combier – less triple-sec will weigh it down.