You may have noticed that Mardi Gras is just around the corner. It's one of my favorite holidays to celebrate, largely because even if I'm not going to New Orleans, it's a grand opportunity to celebrate the Big Easy's rich cocktail culture.
New Orleans is renowned for all manner of sophisticated cocktails. However, if you ask people to name a famous New Orleans cocktail, almost everyone is going to give you one response: the Hurricane.
The Hurricane goes back to the days of World War II. Whiskey was in high demand, but supplies were scarce at best. On the other hand, rum was cheap and plentiful, but nobody was drinking it. Liquor distributors required bars to purchase dozens of cases of rum for every case of top-shelf whiskey.
Since bars were sitting on scads of rum, they had to find a way to use it up. One New Orleans bar, Pat O'Brien's, mixed up a fruity red concoction with lots of rum, and served it in a bulbous glass shaped like a hurricane lamp.
While it's practically a requirement to stop at Pat O'Brien's for a Hurricane while you're on Bourbon Street, it's become more of a quick stop-and-get-it-over-with than a true cocktail destination. Pat's has used a pre-mix syrup for ages now; the official Hurricane might as well just be heavily spiked Kool-Aid. You can do much better at home, and mixing a Hurricane is as easy as it gets. While a good number of Hurricane recipes have a veritable laundry list of ingredients, the original recipe is incredibly simple, with just rum, lemon juice, and passion fruit syrup. The best rum to use is a good dark rum. Lemon juice is, of course, best when fresh-squeezed.
That leaves us with the passion fruit syrup. You can buy passion fruits and make a puree, but it's both insanely expensive and a massive pain in the ass. Thankfully, several companies make perfectly serviceable frozen passion fruit puree. I've found your best bets for finding it around town are at Asian or Hispanic grocery stores. All you have to do is let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours, then mix it with equal parts of water and sugar.
While Hurricanes are best with homemade passion fruit syrup, I understand if you aren't up to the task of finding puree. There are several bottled passion fruit syrups on the market. There are some decent ones on the market.
One of the best bottled passion fruit syrups out there is Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree. It was a bit of a surprise to me, considering Finest Call is most noted for making godawful neon yellow sour mix. However, Finest Call's passion fruit is one of the only ones on the market made with real passion fruit. If you want your Hurricanes to look the closest to the genuine article, Monin makes a red-colored passion fruit syrup. I've never seen it in person, but it is easily available online.
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Hurricane 2 ounces lemon juice 2 ounces passion fruit syrup (recipe follows, or use bottled) 4 ounces dark Jamaican rum
Shake well with ice. Strain over crushed ice in a 24-ounce Hurricane glass or other very large glass. Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Passion Fruit Syrup Combine equal parts passion fruit purée, water, and sugar, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days.