Traditional recipes

What Is a Hurricane Cocktail?

What Is a Hurricane Cocktail?

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As the story goes, the drink was created in the 1940s — Prohibition was freshly repealed, and whiskey was in popular demand.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.

Hurricane matthew: a hurricane drink recipe

We are the proud owners of a set of personalized hurricane cocktail glasses.

No they weren&rsquot on our wedding registry.

(But maybe hurricane drink glasses should be a wedding registry staple? Especially so you can make this easy hurricane drink recipe all the time. Just a thought.)

Our hurricane glasses were gifts from a group of friends with a good idea, a good sense of humor, and a quick turnaround time.

Because when our Outer Banks wedding was cancelled and moved to Charlotte just three days before we were supposed to get married, the morning of our wedding, our very own set of hurricane glasses showed up on our doorstep.

Thank you Hurricane Matthew.

(And thank you my funny law school friends.)

Now you understand the special name behind this hurricane drink recipe.

(If you haven&rsquot heard the whole story, or maybe want to read it again, read all about the plans for our Outer Banks wedding and our actual Charlotte wedding.)

Serving a hurricane drink at our wedding was an obvious no brainer (because, like our friends, we also have a good sense of humor.)

Because when life gives you a hurricane, you make a hurricane, right?

So my fab, cocktail mixing maven friend, Susannah, made us a huge batch (to serve 100!) of hurricane drinks to serve at our celebration.

We named them Hurricane Matthew. Of course.

So besides a wedding that is cancelled, moved and rescheduled because of a hurricane, when is a good time to sip on a hurricane drink? (Or two?)

Anytime, if you ask me (I don&rsquot need a reason to bust out our hurricane glasses and put them to good use) but also on hot summer days, when you feel like a little tropical escape, and of course, to celebrate Mardi Gras!

How to Make a Hurricane

New Orleans did the country a solid when it popularized this fruity rum cocktail.

  1. Combine rum, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice with ice in a shaker. Shake until frosty.
  2. Pour into a hurricane glass filled with more ice cubes.
  3. Garnish with orange slices and maraschino cherries.

The Hurricane is one of those cocktails that you don't think you'll ever be into. Then one day, you're at a rum bar, probably near the ocean with a sea breeze wafting in, and the mood hits you hard. You order the rum, passion fruit, and lemon drink topped with any assortment of garnishes (but traditionally, oranges and maraschino cherries), served in its very own type of glass, and you enjoy it. Assuming it's not packed with powders and bad rum, that is. The recipe to make one yourself is simple enough, if you can get your hands on passion fruit syrup. Here's how.

A Little Background

You won't want to make your Hurricane with bad rum, but that's basically why the cocktail was invented. Like a lot of great drinks, it has roots deep in New Orleans, where shipments of Caribbean rum were plentiful in the '40s, but whiskey was not. So the story goes, the team working at Pat O'Brien's, a New Orleans speakeasy-turned-reputable-joint, invented the cocktail to move all that surplus rum. In a stroke of brilliant marketing, they stuck it in a special glass shaped like a hurricane lamp to make it extra fun.

Others source the Hurricane cocktail's creation to the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Either way, the cocktail caught on, and Pat O'Brien's still sells the drink, albeit made from a sweeter mix these days. You'll see versions of it up and down Bourbon Street too&mdashserved in cheap plastic cups to anyone who wants to drink on the move between bars, as is permitted in New Orleans. And bars around the country dress the Hurricane up with mixes of light and dark rums and interesting fruit juice combos.

If You Like This, Try These

The Hurricane's big bad brother is the Zombie, made with enough rum and sugary fruit juices to tranq an elephant. The Mai Tai is another tropical-themed rum cocktail worth trying. For a simpler rum classic, go for a gingery Dark and Stormy. And there's nothing a good rum Daiquiri won't cure.

What You Need

Here&rsquos what you need to do a Hurricane justice, beyond what you might be able to dig out of the fridge or cupboard.

Hurricane Cocktail

  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 2 ounces passion fruit syrup
  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • Orange slice for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except garnishes) together with ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake and strain into a hurricane glass or poco grande glass filled with ice.

When is Mardi Gras 2021?

Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021. Cheers to a fun celebration! Rumor has it that the Hurricane Cocktail was created in New Orleans at the legendary Pat O&rsquoBrien&rsquos Bar in the 1940s. However, I can&rsquot say for sure. But I can say that our version of this classic Mardi Gras drink is fabulous! It is. Trust me you&rsquoll like it! It&rsquos phenomenal.

I fell in love with so many of the signature dishes of New Orleans, like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, Po boy sandwiches, and Bananas Foster. And who can resist those deliciously light and fluffy beignets dusted with powdered sugar? Not I. I need to stop because I am making myself hungry. But, until I get myself back to New Orleans, I will mix up a batch of Hurricanes and pretend to be King for the day. So, go ahead and get yourself some Lagniappe too. Cheers!

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • ¼ cup passion fruit nectar
  • 2 tablespoons grenadine or maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • ½ cup passion fruit-flavored sparkling water (such as LaCroix)
  • Maraschino cherries with stems and orange slices for garnish

Combine orange juice, light rum, dark rum, passion fruit nectar, grenadine (or cherry juice) and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Cover and shake vigorously until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain the mixture evenly into 2 ice-filled hurricane glasses. Top each with ¼ cup sparkling water. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice, if desired.

There are lots of theories about where and how the hurricane cocktail originated, but the most popular is that it began at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans shortly after World War II when whiskey was in short supply. Liquor suppliers had a surplus of rum and required bar owners to order multiple cases of rum for one case of whiskey. In an effort to use up all this rum, the hurricane cocktail was born.

For more history on southern food and drinks you’ll want to read Southern Food: Then & Now.

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The original hurricane cocktail was said to have consisted of nothing but rum, lemon juice, and the hard-to-come-by Fassionola. Fassionola was a sweet syrup with passionfruit and other fruit flavors. These days, passionfruit syrup or puree is used in place of Fassionola along with a mixture of orange juice, lime juice, and grenadine.

I found this passionfruit puree on Amazon and it is amazing in a hurricane cocktail! Not only that, but I have also been adding it to mojitos and even gin & tonics to make them a bit more interesting and it definitely does the trick!

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The other important item you need to make a hurricane cocktail is a hurricane glass! You can find the ones we bought here. Hurricanes are also typically garnished with a slice of orange and a bright red maraschino cherry.

If you make this or any of our recipes we’d love for you to leave us a comment and star rating. If you’re into sharing your creations, snap a photo and tag us when you post it to Facebook or Instagram.

If you’re like us and you love all foods and drinks from the Cajun and Creole cuisines you’ll want to try Shrimp Etouffee and Dirty Rice. Even more recipes are pictured with links at the bottom.

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Hurricane Drink Recipe!

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/4 oz grenadine syrup
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1/2 oz 151 rum or a dark anejo rum makes a good substitute
  • 1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • grapefruit juice
  • pineapple juice

Pour all but the juices, in order listed, into a “Hurricane” glass three-quarters filled with ice.
Fill with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice, and serve.

A Nice Option: Rum drinks are famous for a rum “float” on the top. A dark anejo rum such as “Brugal Rum” makes a nice finishing touch. Usually a 151 is called for, but for flavor, try the anejo!

The creation of the “Hurricane” cocktail is credited to Pat O’Brien of New Orleans. O’Brien had to get rid of the rum he was forced to buy before he could purchase other spirits, so he whipped up the concoction and gave it away to the sailors. It turned out to be a hit and remains a popular rum drink today!

WARNING! Another of the 5 ounce relationship builders. Be careful and go easy with this one, unless resting face down in the parking lot is high on your to do list! Always Drink Responsibly! Never Drink and Drive !

Experiment at Home

It's always fascinating to learn how a single cocktail like a hurricane can be mixed in so many different ways to create such unique drinks. Thankfully, you're always free to tweak whatever recipe you try until you've found a flavor combination that makes the drink taste perfect to you. Take a moment to feel inspired in the kitchen and experiment with one of these hurricanes recipes to create your own signature cocktail. Be sure to share it with friends and family once you've perfected that new recipe.