Perfect for Mardi Gras season or any warm, misty night, a hurricane cocktail is fruity, a little exotic, and plenty strong. This recipe is straight from the notorious Pat O'Brien's bar website circa 2013. And you can easily adapt it to the juice you have on hand. One sip and you'll be transported to the Big Easy's infamous Bourbon Street piano lounge. And save yourself a questionable drive home.
While the recipe varies depending on where and when you look, the original hurricane cocktail contained three ingredients: rum, red passion fruit juice, and lemon juice. The owners of Pat O'Brien's, a New Orleans speakeasy turned piano lounge, contrived the drink in the decade following the repeal of Prohibition (say early 1940s). Whiskey and bourbon were hard to procure at the time, but the rum was flowing like the Mississippi River.
Why a river of rum? Because bar owners were forced to buy cases of it from their suppliers to get a single bottle of Kentucky's finest bourbon (which was in short supply thanks to Prohibition). Enter: the hurricane drink. Several ounces of rum in an appropriately-named glass with red passion fruit and a squeeze of lemon to temper the burn.
The Modern Hurricane
Flashforward nearly a century, and the hurricane cocktail has morphed into a sweet yet potent drink with varying types of liquor and juice. This recipe was published on Pat O'Brien's website years ago but has since been deleted. (Apparently in an effort by the owners to sell the bar's bottled mix.)
While this ingredient list differs from many popular recipes, I find it more akin to the taste of the hurricanes served at Pat O's (what locals call the bar). In my personal Bourbon Street sipping experience, a hurricane is a nuanced, fruity, sneak-up-on-you kind of cocktail. And with five types of booze disguised in syrup and juice, this one surely does.
Many modern recipes call for only rum, with no vodka or gin in sight. So feel free to replace the two with more gold rum. When I first found this recipe it called for Bacardi 151 and light rum. But Bacardi has since discontinued the high-proof bottling. And it seems gold is the new light rum. So that's that.
- Vodka. Any traditional vodka works. I typically buy a mini bottle of a top-shelf brand (easier on the wallet).
- Gin. This juniper-berry liquor plays well with others, and I love Hendricks. And a mini bottle or two is enough for a couple of drinks.
- Gold rum. You can also mix in equal amounts of light rum and dark rum, which is historically more accurate.
- Triple sec. Triple Sec is a brand of basic orange liqueur. And also a general mixology term for any orange liqueur. Cointreau and Grand Marnier are nice top-shelf versions.
- Amaretto. This almond liqueur adds a fun, thing-that-makes-you-go-Mmmm. And I've never seen it in any other recipe (which makes me wonder if it's a secret ingredient the bar owners shared for a time before changing their minds).
- Grenadine. You can find the pomegranate syrup at grocery and liquor stores by the mixers. Specialty stores sell less-processed versions without artificial coloring (Red 40). So the pink color of a hurricane made with organic or artisan grenadine will be more subtle.
- Grapefruit and pineapple juice. Why not passion fruit juice? I don't know why Pat O'Brien's published a recipe that didn't call for passion fruit. But my suspicion is that since the exotic purée is expensive and can be hard to find, grapefruit and pineapple juice proved more accessible for home mixologists. If you can find pure passion fruit juice, nectar, or purée, it'll make for a historically-accurate hurricane drink (and is truly tart and delicious).
- Orange slices and maraschino cherries. More pretty, classic garnishes include lime slices and tall straws.
- Simple syrup. If you use fresh-squeezed or pure juices, simple syrup can add a bit more sweetness.
- For the coldest cocktail. If your liquor(s) and liqueurs aren't chilled, I highly recommend shaking them in a cocktail shaker with ice (or two nested glasses). It makes for a crisper cocktail. And the ice in the glasses will melt slower if you start with cold ingredients. You can also pop the bottles in the freezer beforehand if you don't own a cocktail shaker.
- On the fruit juice. I recommend fresh-squeezed and/or pure bottlings (nothing from concentrate). If you can't find pure passion fruit purée or juice, it's an ingredient in many tropical juice blends. Truly, any combination of orange, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon, or lime juice succeeds. It's all about subtropical, down-in-the-bayou flavor. Reach for what you have and what you can find without breaking the bank.
- On hurricane strength. Fair warning, the smaller your glass the stronger the hurricane drink. If you are sipping from tall lamp glasses, double the recipe for Category 5 strength cocktails (lame pun). But if you're pouring the drink into highball glasses, this recipe is plenty strong.
The standard operating procedure for a hurricane is to simply mix the liquors and liqueurs in a glass, and top it off with the juice. But especially if your ingredients aren't cold, a cocktail shaker makes for a nice, frosty cocktail. I like to shake only the liquors and liqueurs. Then stir in the juices and grenadine after I strain the hard stuff into the glasses.
- Prepare the garnish. Slice an orange in half and place the flat side down on a cutting board. Slice into quarter-inch thick half-moons, one for each drink. Slicing citrus with a serrated knife is easiest.
- Fill the glass with ice. Fill a hurricane glass or the tallest glass you have about halfway full with ice.
- Mix the liquors, liqueurs, and grenadine. Measure the vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, triple sec, and grenadine into the glass and stir. Alternatively, shake the liquors and liqueurs in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain them into the glass, then add the grenadine.
- Top with juice. Fill the remaining space in the glass with passion fruit juice, or equal parts pineapple and grapefruit juice (or any combination). Give a quick stir to blend the drink.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish the hurricane with an orange slice and maraschino cherries. And for the real Pat O'Brien experience, serve and sip your hurricane through two tall straws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Passion fruit juice, or more accurately purée, can be found by the fruit juice at your market, or online. Many grocery store brands sell passion fruit as nectar. Which is thick, very sweet, and typically contains another fruit juice and added sugar. For the purest, least adulterated passion fruit purée, look online for commercial cocktail mixer products. I recommend bottlings that contain only passion fruit pulp, and a little water and sugar.
For 2023, Mardi Gras falls on February 21st. Here is a complete list of parades and events hosted by the city of New Orleans. And if you don't live in Louisiana, you may be surprised to find Mardi Gras events (or at least themed nights) at restaurants and bars in your town. A quick online search often turns up a few surprises where Carnival is concerned.
These days Pat O'Brien's, while still legendary, is more or less uninspiring to locals. But as you sit on the picturesque patio listening to the jazz and sipping your hurricane, it's easy to imagine a montage of eight decades' worth of revelry at the piano lounge turned tourist magnet.
And while the clothing and atmosphere may blur as the generations come, sip and fade into their future counterparts, the notorious drink remains solely in focus. That is until you order a second round. As I said, it's got a lot of rum.
A hurricane cocktail slightly adapted from the original drink recipe of the legendary Pat O'Brien's bar in New Orleans. If you're serving the drinks in tall hurricane glasses like the ones sold at the Bourbon Street lounge, you can double the rum in the recipe for a stronger drink. But sip slowly while you laissez le bons temps rouler!
- 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons of vodka
- 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons of gin
- 2 ounces of gold rum (or 1 ounce each of light and dark rum*)
- 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons of amaretto almond liqueur
- 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons of triple sec or orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon of grenadine
- Grapefruit juice + pineapple juice, and/or passion fruit purée, as needed
- Simple syrup*, optional, to taste
- Hurricane glass or highball glass
- Orange slices
- Maraschino cherries, for garnish
- Prepare the garnishes. Slice an orange in half and place the flat side down on a cutting board. Slice it into quarter-inch thick half-moons, one for each drink. A serrated knife makes slicing citrus easier.
- Fill the glasses with ice. Fill each hurricane glass or the tallest glass you have about halfway full with ice.
- Mix the liquors, liqueurs, and grenadine. Measure the vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, triple sec, and grenadine into the hurricane glass(es). Stir to combine it all. Alternatively, you can shake the liquors and liqueurs in a cocktail shaker with ice until it frosts over. Then strain them into the glass and add the grenadine.
- Top with juice. Fill the remaining space in the glass with passion fruit juice, or an equal combination of pineapple and grapefruit juice. Give another quick stir to blend the drink.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish the hurricane with an orange slice and maraschino cherries. And for the real Pat O'Brien's New Orleans experience, serve and sip your hurricane through two tall straws.
On Different Types of Rum
When the bar originally published this recipe it called for Bacardi 151, which is now discontinued. So I replaced it with gold rum since that's the type Pat O'Brien's recommends to use with its hurricane drink mix. You can also use equal measures of light and dark rum in substitution of the gold. Which is historically more traditional.
To Make Simple Syrup
Homemade simple syrup is nearly as easy as boiling water. Simply combine equal amounts of water and sugar in a small pot and bring just to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and store it chilled.
On Passion Fruit Juice
Most available brands are juice concentrate blends and contain more sugar than actual passion fruit. Look for a pure or lightly sweetened passion fruit purée or juice without any added ingredients besides a small amount of sugar. Or make your own passion fruit juice by blending and straining the pulp of ripe passion fruit. Then stir in a little water to thin it out and simple syrup for sweetness.
Keywords: pat o'brien hurricane recipe, hurricane cocktail, how to make a hurricane, hurricane drink
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