Cocktail of the WeekMay 16, 2012

While Mardi Gras may be the biggest party of the year in New Orleans, visitors looking for a grand shindig that showcases the city?s musical heritage will head to the Big Easy for the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. Those who made it to the recent 2012 event were entertained by local acts like the Neville Brothers and Dr. John as well as by international superstars, such as Cee Lo Green, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

For many, a trip to Bourbon Street before and after the show was all part of the musical fun. In a town known for drive-through daiquiri shops and go-cups, partiers can wander through the French Quarter with a choice of mind-numbing beverages like the cyclone, hand grenade and jungle juice. Long before these frosty concoctions hit the streets, there was the drink that may have caused more Crescent City hangovers than any other: the Hurricane.

Bright red and cloyingly sweet, a version of this tipple can be found in any watering hole in the French Quarter. While the drink?s formula has changed through the years, its history can be traced back to World War II when it was invented at Pat O?Brien?s.

For the first-time visitor to New Orleans, Pat O?Brien?s deserves a place on their to-do list. While some dismiss this well-tracked spot as ?touristy,? there?s a special allure about visiting the bar that the New Orleans Times-Picayune referred to as ?Disneyland for serious drinkers.? Founded by Pat-O?Brien, a bootlegger, and Charlie Cantell, a wholesaler, this Louisiana institution opened its doors as Prohibition was repealed. With its charming fountain courtyard, live piano music and storied history, Pat O?Brien?s is memorable stop in a city filled with saloons.

The invention of their signature drink came about as a practical necessity. Back in the 1940s, liquors such as Scotch and Bourbon were in short supply. There was a glut of post-Prohibition rum, and the dealers wanted to move it. The bar?s partners were forced by liquor wholesalers to order as many as 50 cases of rum in order to purchase a few cases of the whiskeys they wanted.

Barmen played around with a mixture of fruit juices and passion fruit until they came up with an alluring combination: a tasty and potent cocktail, containing four ounces of rum in each serving. They began selling the new creation in a Hurricane glass and the drink?s moniker was born. The Hurricane caught on, and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the atmosphere at Pat O?Brien?s has remained a constant, today?s Hurricanes have changed dramatically since the cocktail?s inception. Due to the high volume of visitors, Pat O?Brien?s now makes their hurricanes from a pre-made mix.

The ingredients are fairly simple a rum, grenadine, citrus and passion fruit juices. Pat O?Brien?s sells its own brand of Hurricane rum, made in the Virgin Islands, and mix, that can be ordered online. Nevertheless, creating your own hurricane from scratch will result in a rewarding and delicious refresher.

Even though this fabled tipple is not what it used to be, a stop at Pat O?Brien?s is still a fun diversion for those planning a visit to New Orleans. ?We have such a long and colorful history,? reminded Pat O?Brien?s spokesperson Jamie Touchton. ?Visitors want to experience the legend that people have been talking about for decades. The hurricane is the drink of New Orleans. Many try to imitate it, but none can compare to the taste, strength and the overall experience of being in Pat O?Brien?s.?

2 1/2 oz Mount Gay Silver Rum
1 1/2 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 ? oz Passion fruit puree
? Oz Stirrings grenadine (made from pomegranate)

Combine the ingredients in a shaker, and serve over ice. Garnish with an orange slice

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