History of the Hurricane cocktail

Authored By Laura Kelton

Last week, Tales of the Cocktail announced this year’s celebrated cocktail-the Hurricane-and with it, a challenge to bartenders to submit their own take on the New Orleans classic. Being a native of Louisiana, I’m always a little disappointed with myself for not being able to immediately drum up a Hurricane, or the recipe, off the top of my head. With this particular cocktail challenge laid out in front of me, I figured now was a better time than any to do some digging into the historical roots of the Hurricane cocktail and familiarize myself with the recipe.

Original Hurricane

4 oz gold rum
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz passion fruit syrup

Over the years, the drink has been synonymous with the infamous Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street, where it was created, and it has not wavered in its popularity and strength, only in quality. What many of us know as the electric-red, cloyingly sweet and relentlessly strong rum cocktail didn’t begin as a mass-distributed powdered mix, so where did it come from?

After World War II, liquor distributors were up to their necks in cases of rum but didn’t have much of the highly sought-after Scotch whisky that bar owners were after. In order to move their large stock of rum, they made a deal with the bars that for each bottle of Scotch, they had to also purchase a case of rum. Though this doesn’t seem like the worst deal in the world, the rum was cheap in price, flavor and reputation.

Sitting on so many cases of rum, O’Brien’s bartender Louis Culligan published the original Hurricane recipe in a 1956 issue of Cabaret magazine, which called for 4 ounces of gold rum; 2 ounces of lemon juice; and 2 ounces of a bottled passion fruit mix, Fassionola, which gave it the bright red color it is now famous for. The name “Hurricane” can be derived from a few thoughts, but aside from the strength of the drink, it most likely stuck because the cocktail was originally sold in the glass piece of a hurricane lamp, which has led us to use the large, curved glass in which it is served for showmanship today.

Hurricane No. 2

1 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1/2 oz Galliano
2 oz orange juice
2 oz unsweetened pineapple
1 oz passion fruit
3/4 oz lime
1 oz simple syrup
Dash of Angostura

After doing more research, I was less disappointed in myself for not knowing a great Hurricane recipe and found myself asking, “Which one do I use?!” The variations of the drink are endless, but I’ve found a few that are worth a shot. Although I always encourage you to use fresh ingredients, in order to make this cocktail in any volume, you’ll need to find a quality passion fruit puree or syrup. After experimenting with passion fruit for the first time in my last article, I now know the effort that goes into extracting the fruit’s delicious flavors, and it is incredibly time-consuming. Based on recommendations from fellow bartenders, I’ll be looking for passion fruit syrup from Fee Brothers or Giffard or a passion fruit puree, preferably by Perfect Puree.

I’d love to hear which version of the Hurricane you like best, whether it be one of the recipes above or the one you had at Pat O’Brien’s on your last New Orleans adventure. Until next time, happy drinking! 

Laura Kelton is a recent graduate of UTC and currently runs the bar program at Easy Bistro & Bar. Feel free to reach out to her by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.