We are mere weeks away from Mardis Gras 2017. Feb. 28 is the magic Tuesday this year and you don't have to make the trip to New Orleans to enjoy the quintessential Mardi Gras cocktail, The Hurricane.
There are many, many ways to make a Hurricane. I have a running recipe, and each year around this time I tweak the recipe a bit as I attempt to capture the spirit of New Orleans.
This year I have decided to go back to basics, back to the original three-ingredient Hurricane.
You know what? Less is more in the Hurricane, and the folks at Pat O'Brien's had it right the first time.
Before we get into what makes a Hurricane a Hurricane, a brief Hurricane history lesson is in order.
The Hurricane was invented in the period of time immediately following prohibition. During this time, American whiskey distillers were struggling to meet the production demands of consumers as they had only been legally allowed to produce whiskey for a short time.
Remember, whiskey is an aged spirit and some batches took 10 years or more to mature.
Rum, on the other hand, was imported from Latin America and the Caribbean where there was no prohibition. Wholesalers and importers alike had storehouses full of rum, but a limited supply of whiskey. Therefore, if you owned a bar during this time, most distributors required that you buy as many 50 cases rum for each case of whiskey.
The end result was that bars were overflowing with rum. Luis Culligan, head bartender at Pat O'Brien's, was asked by management to come up with a recipe that would help to get rid of the large stock of unwanted rum.
The end result was a cocktail with 4 ounces (let that sink in) of rum that literally millions of unsuspecting Mardi Gras revelers found to be delightfully easy to drink over the last eight decades. Maybe a little too easy, in some cases.
If you are looking for an original Hurricane this Fat Tuesday, you won't find it at Pat O'Brien's. Pat's now serves Hurricanes made from their own branded bright red, cherry-flavored, syrupy-sweet mix.
I can't say that I blame them, in the interest of time they have no choice but to do it this way. Literally millions of Hurricanes are served at their locations each year, and you would be waiting all night for your drink if they had to make them all from scratch.
Depending on the size of your Fat Tuesday gathering, you should be able to turn out scratch-made Hurricanes at a pace fast enough to keep anyone from getting thirsty.
On that note, it's perfectly acceptable to cut the recipe below in half to accommodate smaller glassware. For reference, the Pat O'Brien's souvenir Hurricane glasses are 26 ounces.
If serving a crowd, use the recipe below and fill two or three ice-filled Tiki mugs per mix. If you ever wanted to be Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, here's your chance.
Passion fruit is the key flavor note in the Hurricane, and it can be difficult to find. Don't go looking for raw passion fruit, it will take forever and about $25 worth of passion fruit to get an ounce or two of passion fruit juice.
It is best to use passion fruit syrup which is widely available under the brand names BG Reynolds, Monin and Trader Vic's.
The syrup is non-alcoholic and may be ordered online if you are unable to find it at your local spirits outlet. For ease of use, consistency, and reduced preparation time, I recommend using one of these pre-made syrups.
If you would like to make passion fruit syrup from scratch, it's relatively easy to do if you can find the frozen pulp. The most common brand of passion fruit pulp in the United States is imported by the Goya Company, and it can be found in the international section of your local grocer's freezer. If you have a Mexican import store nearby, even better.
To make the syrup from scratch, the pulp, sugar and water are mixed in a ratio of 1:1:1. Make the 1:1 simple syrup by stirring sugar into hot water until dissolved, allow simple syrup to cool, then stir in the thawed pulp. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
I used to channel my inner Trader Vic by mixing and matching different rums to achieve some unachievable perfect balance of rums, but I have found that a Hurricane needs a solid dark rum. Nothing less, nothing more.
If you have a favorite dark rum, use it, and be sure to by the 1.75 L because you are going to use quite a bit of rum if you are making Hurricanes.
In the dark rum category I like Cruzan, El Dorado, Myers, Goslings and Mount Gay. None of these will break the bank, all will satisfy even the pickiest of Mardi Gras revelers.
We will be building the Hurricane in a shaker, and serving in a Hurricane glass.
Fill shaker with ice (include some crushed ice for dilution).
Add 2 oz fresh lemon juice.
Add 2 oz passion fruit syrup.
Add 4 oz dark rum.
Shake, pour contents (unfiltered) into Hurricane glass.
Add ice until glass is full.
Garnish with lemon wheel and cherry, serve with two straws.