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Dipsology: Beyond the Basics -- a New Orleans Tempest in a Glass

image courtesy of Brad Slager and Scott Hounsell

Paying homage to those rendered by Ida’s wrath.

(Before there is a hint that this is a bit of an exploitive entry, it was done with the intention of signifying the start of college football, and my team of choice, the University of Miami – not specifically for the Cat-4 blast recently seen in Crescent City. However, it seems apt for the history and location as well.)

 

Here is a trivia question for you to employ if you want to make a friendly bar wager: What is the Hurricane Cocktail named after? Answer to arrive…

There are a variety of ways to measure what makes an iconic, historic cocktail, but one sure metric would have to be that a drink has its own glassware. Martini, Old Fashioned, Collins; they all have their own design for use, and in the same fashion, comes a classic from the Bayou. There are many tropical drinks that are served in the statuesque glass with compelling curves and a blunt stem, the volume being enough to accommodate multiple ingredients and even complex garnishes — the Hurricane glass.

Alex Brandon

As the lineage of drinks go, the Hurricane is on the younger side. Less a result of wild creativity, it was more the product of necessity. It originates from Pat O’Brien’s, the famed watering hole on Rue Bourbon. The legendary locale has a variety of storm-themed drinks, from the Rainstorm, and Cyclone, as well as the classic Dark And Stormy, to the post-inclement The Rainbow. But one drink — weather-related or not — reigns above them all.

It was the late 1940s and the war effort was leading to a variety of commodities becoming scarce, and the most ironic and troubling in New Orleans was a whiskey shortage. This was especially impactful in the city whose history is deeply entwined with the brown liquor; the Mississippi port was so vital to the emergence of bourbon that to this day it is unsure if Bourbon Street took its name, or lent it to the Kentucky product. That Pat O’Brien’s is rooted on that marinated roadway only highlighted the anxiety.

With prices spiking as supplies dwindled, one other spirit was plentiful. The Caribbean island nations were not as directly impacted by the war so their rum production was not as adversely impacted, and their proximity to southern ports meant supplies were flush and the spirit was cheap. Distributers were pushing the product and Pat O’Brien’s was sitting on a swollen inventory as a result, they decided to hit upon creating new rum-based drinks.

As they were concocting, near the same time a drinkware salesman approached the proprietors with a new design he was offering, this based on the shape of another fixture of New Orleans — the wind-resistant hurricane lamp. Taller, and sporting the curvaceous lines of a burlesque performer, the new glassware was both seductive to the eye while also carrying more area for more than a shot-and-mix cocktail. The team got to work to create a rum-centered drink that would complement this new item.

Cheryl Gerber

Now, the original cocktail recipe has been passed over for both more ample ingredients, and the natural evolution of the drink as it swept over the city in popularity. Swiftly becoming a hit with both locals and tourists, the bar had more than just crunching numbers from its sales receipts to realize they had a hit on their hands. The glassware kept running low at the bar, as the patrons routinely made off with the then-novelty glasses.

The original recipe was simpler, with a generous serving of the rum and a local passionfruit-based syrup.

  • 4oz. Gold Rum
  • 2oz Lemon Juice
  • 20z. Fassionola

Over time, as the popularity began to soar, it became necessary to prepare larger batches of the ingredients to accommodate demand. The Fassionola is a holdover from the tiki bar explosion of the early 1900s, and as it fell out of popularity, and more local establishments were catching up on the Hurricane popularity, the concoction made with passion fruit, Hibiscus, and other fruits gave way to simpler ingredients like passionfruit juice and grenadine.

Today’s recipe remains something of a moving target, depending on where you get it, but there is a baseline to work from.

  • 2 oz. Light Rum
  • 2oz. Dark Rum
  • 3oz Passionfruit Juice, or Fassionola
  • 1/2oz. Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Simple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Grenadine (if not using Fassionola)

Fill a shaker 2/3 with ice, add ingredients, shake and pour contents into Hurricane glass. Garnish with orange and cherry.

Pat O’Brien’s even markets nationally a packaged hurricane mix, but this would lack the proper combination and flavors. It will do if you cannot find the crucial ingredients for a party. After all, the main thing above all else, is that you have the proper glass to serve the drinks in for guests.