Hurricane Season

Like true cocktail geeks, we spent the weekend before Mardi Gras testing hurricane recipes. 

By L. Eno

Vividly red, comically huge, garnished with an orange slice and a cherry, the modern version of the hurricane is often dismissed as a tourist cocktail, a spring break drink, the sort of thing people drink to get drunk just because they can

While that might be accurate in practice, it’s not entirely fair. With the proper ingredients (none of which is a prepackaged mix), a hurricane can be fantastic. It’s still sweet, and it’ll probably get you drunk, but it’s also a flavorful cocktail worthy of your attention. 

We generally like our boozy drinks to taste boozy. But craving a change of pace, cocktail-wise, and with no plan to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, we spent the weekend before geeking out on hurricane recipes. Here we report our findings and offer up recipes representing three styles of New Orleans’ most famous cocktail. 

The 1940s Hurricane

Pat O’Brien, of the eponymous New Orleans bar, began selling the hurricane in the 1940s. It was wartime, and that meant liquor salesmen had a hard time sourcing the whiskey and cognac O’Brien’s customers preferred. Rum, on the other hand, was everywhere, so salesmen began forcing bar owners to buy dozens of bottles of rum to get even a single bottle of whiskey. O’Brien found himself with an embarrassment of riches, rumwise, and he had to unload it somehow. The liquor-heavy hurricane was his solution.

As for the origin of the recipe itself: Cocktail lore gives O’Brien the credit, but a competing theory cites a 1941 pamphlet called “The Rum Connoisseur,” published by Ronrico Rum, as a source for the original recipe. Either way, the earliest hurricanes were made from rum, citrus, and passion fruit syrup, like the 1940s version we tried:

4 oz. Light Rum

2 oz. Dark Rum

1 oz. Proof Citrus Sour

2 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup (Bottled or DIY)

Shake with ice until chilled, then strain over ice. Garnish with orange wheel and a Luxardo cherry.

The Dawn of the Red Hurricane

Hurricanes were originally yellow-orange in color. The red came a few years later, when bartenders started replacing passion fruit syrup with fassionola, a passion fruit-flavored syrup invented in the 1930s and often used in tiki cocktails. As the tiki trend waned, so did the appetite for fassionola, and the syrup eventually slipped off bartenders’ radar (and store shelves). 

We were curious about this almost-forgotten syrup, so we bought a version from Amazon and re-created a fassionola hurricane recipe below. (You can find several DIY fassionola recipes online, too.)

3 oz. Light Rum

1 oz. Dark Rum

1 oz. Proof Citrus Sour

1 ½ oz. Fassionola

Shake with ice until chilled, then strain over ice. Garnish with orange wheel and a Luxardo cherry.

The Modern Hurricane 

By the 1960s, the recipe had shifted again, this time to passion fruit juice and grenadine, so that’s where we went for our third and final hurricane experiment. 

If authenticity’s your thing, this isn’t that recipe — but it’s still a tasty cocktail that retains the core flavors and strength of the original hurricane. We also found the ingredients relatively easy to come by — most were already in our kitchen, and we found passion fruit juice at a local Latin grocery. 

2 oz Aged Rum

2 oz White Rum

2 oz Passion Fruit Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Proof Citrus Sour

½ oz Proof Pomegranate

Shake with ice until chilled, then strain over ice. Garnish with orange wheel and a Luxardo cherry.