The missus and I made a big double batch of gumbo yesterday (recipe courtesy of the remarkable Jimmy Bannos of Chicago’s Heaven on Seven), and what goes better with gumbo than a Hurricane? Nothing, that’s what.
The Hurricane, as you might know, is a New Orleans drink, and was invented at Pat O’Brien’s, a venerable French Quarter institution. Jeff Berry includes the drink in his invaluable Tiki compendium, Beachbum Berry Remixed, which you should buy right now. He relates that in the first few years after Prohibition, distillers were unable to keep up with a steady demand for whiskey, but had more rum than they knew what to do with. Some distributors, then, began to require bars to buy a case of rum to match any case of whiskey they bought. The Hurricane, supposedly, was Pat O’Brien’s solution to getting rid of all that rum that was foisted upon them.
But is it really a Tiki drink? It wasn’t invented at a Tiki bar, to be sure. It dates to 1941; Tiki was around, but hadn’t much spread beyond its California birthplace, and was certainly not a national phenomenon yet. Who can say whether the bartenders at Pat O’Brien’s were aware of the “Rhum Rhapsodies” being whipped up by Don the Beachcomber’s bevy of Filipino barmen? I would argue that the Hurricane represents a sort of parallel development otherwise unrelated to Tiki per se, building on the existing Caribbean traditions of sweetened rum-citrus combinations, including the Planter’s Punch, with which NOLA denizens would have been intimately familiar. (Of course, this same Caribbean tradition was exactly what Don built upon in creating the Tiki drink in the first place.) Does it really matter if the Hurricane is a true Tiki drink? No – and by the 1950s just about everyone would have considered it as such, so closely does it fit within the category’s general milieu. But history would suggest it isn’t one, really.
2 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces passion fruit syrup (Monin or Torani works well)
4 ounces dark Jamaican rum (Myers’s)
Shake with crushed ice, and pour unstrained into a hurricane glass.
My hurricane glasses are a tad too small, I think, limiting the amount of ice I can shake with. Mine are 16 oz. – probably 20 oz. would be better. Oh well. You’ll notice that a Hurricane is not red, as it will be so often when you order one at a bar – including Pat O’Brien’s. Too often, it is constructed now with a pre-made mix. But since the Hurricane is much simpler to make than most Tiki drinks, with just three ingredients, it’s the perfect tropical to make at home for even the most novice mixologist. The lemon and syrup battle for dominance between sweet and sour, and the rum lords itself all over the other two ingredients. Every sip, then, is full of each of the three flavors, and that’s a good thing. Five livers.