As this issue went to press, meteorologists were 99.9 percent sure that Erika, no longer even a tropical storm, would pass us by entirely, and they'd moved their watchful eyes on to Fred, strengthening in the Atlantic. The lack of an actual hurricane doesn't undermine my choice of the Hurricane cocktail to remix this month, though – according to historians, the drink was never actually named for the weather event at all.
In the 1920s, Pat O'Brien (whose bar still goes strong on Bourbon Street today) ran a New Orleans speakeasy called Club Tipperary. "Entrance to the club depended on knowing its password: Storm's A-brewing," Elizabeth Pearce writes in Edible New Orleans. Rum was in abundant supply, but unfashionable, and liquor suppliers wouldn't sell bars the hard-to-get whiskey they wanted unless they also purchased several cases of rum. Faced with an oversupply of rum, Pearce writes, O'Brien "challenged his bartenders to create a new rum-based drink, and the Hurricane was born. Its name was inspired by his 'Storm's A-brewing' password and O'Brien served it in an iconic hurricane-lantern-shaped glass."
So now that we've separated the cocktail from the climate, let's talk about the drink itself. This tiki-bar classic began as a simple mix of passion fruit syrup, rum and lime. As time's gone by, it's become a bright-red cavity-causing glop of pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine, maraschino cherries and a whopping 4 ounces of rum. Often, it's made from a powdered mix (sold by Pat O'Brien's, sadly enough). It's one of those drinks that's in a class with the Long Island Iced Tea – the "get fucked up" class.
So to start with, I "unmixed," rather than remix. The original recipe – dark Jamaican rum, lime juice and passion fruit syrup – was tasty, but it was still awfully sweet. So I set myself the challenge of making a more sophisticated Hurricane.
First things first: You can buy commercially made passion fruit syrup – Trader Vic's or Monin are acceptable, but they're no easier to find in stores than frozen passion fruit pulp (look in the supermarket freezer case near the Goya products). Fresh-made tastes a thousand times better and it's stupid simple to make. Once I had my syrup and it was cooled to room temp, I mixed rhum agricole – it has a more assertive flavor than plain white rum – with a shot of overproof aged rum (a tip of the hat to tiki culture, the only reason an adult should mess with 151). I swapped out the lime for lemon, which, when mixed with the hot 151, creates an almost peppery spiciness, then added just a titch of Chartreuse, for a shadow of bitterness. And there you have it – a tiki drink for people who don't like sweet drinks.
Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a hurricane glass full of ice. Garnish with an orange slice and two or three cherries.
Add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange slice.