What Is a Hurricane Cocktail?

Basically, a New Orleans party in a glass

So you’ve just touched down in the Big Easy. Mardi Gras is already ringing in your ears, and the glint of faraway beads can already be seen from the airport. You’re going to be drinking, that's a given, but where to start? The classic New Orleans Sazerac seems a little intense for a first drink, and you don't want to wait the 12 minutes for a proper Ramos Gin Fizz. The good news is, if it’s a party drink you’re looking for, you can’t do much better than the as-fun-as-it-is-dangerous Hurricane cocktail.

The Hurricane is a drink mainly composed of lime juice, passionfruit syrup, and a worrying amount of dark rum. The origins of this cocktail are surprisingly straightforward considering its fame, with all the credit going to the famed Pat O’Brien’s Bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

As the story goes, the drink was created in the 1940s — Prohibition was freshly repealed, and whiskey was in popular demand. However, in the South at the time, rum was much more prevalent than whiskey, so the deal was that bars could only purchase a bottle of whiskey with a case of rum, leaving Pat O’Brien with the problem of unloading cases of rum that were building up around the bar. To solve this predicament, the bar decided to mix up a fruity concoction with lime juice and as much rum as could fit in a lamp-shaped hurricane glass. The new drink was passed around at Mardi Gras, and the rest is history.

Over the years, the drink has gone through several different permutations, with everything from powdered fruit juice mix mix to Hawaiian Punch being used to substitute the cocktail's fruity-sweet element. The original cocktail, however, is a simple mix of one part passionfruit syrup, one part lime juice, and two parts dark rum (some claim one part light rum, one part dark, but Pat’s recipe states otherwise). Some of the more tasty variations on the drink call for orange juice to be mixed in with the lime juice, and use passionfruit juice instead of the harder-to-make syrup.

So if you happen to be in New Orleans this Mardi Gras, head on over to Pat O’Brien’s, ask for the most twisted Hurricane you can get your hands on, take your plastic cup (you can’t drink from glass out on the street), and let the demented, delicious debauchery begin.


Click here for the Hurricane recipe.