How to Make a Simple Hurricane Cocktail for Mardi Gras

hurricane cocktail with mardi gras mask
Going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras isn’t in the cards for most of us this year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t savor a taste of Fat Tuesday and indulge in a little pre-Lenten debauchery. To get your Big Easy fix (and to fuel said debauchery), we recommend shaking up a Hurricane or two (or five).

A Hurricane is one of a number of classic cocktails that can trace its origins to New Orleans, and it has become a staple of the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations. Legend has it that the recipe was first devised at Pat O’Brien’s during World War II, when whiskey, bourbon, and scotch were scarce and rum was cheap and easy to procure. As the story goes, a liquor distributor strong armed the bar into purchasing an inordinate amount of rum (which was not especially popular at the time) by threatening to withhold delivery of more desirable spirits. Faced with a glut of rum, O’Brien’s enterprising owners combined the molasses-derived liquor in a two-to-one ratio with both passion fruit syrup and lemon juice to make it more appealing to customers. They served the drink in a curved, footed glass that resembled a hurricane lamp. The result? A potent cocktail that, while sweet, was more simple and balanced than the fruit juice-heavy, souvenir Hurricanes that have become a mainstay of French Quarter tourist hotspots.

Unlike a lot of the Hurricane recipes floating around the interwebs that call for upward of six ingredients, making the original Hurricane at home requires just three (though you can throw in a fourth ingredient–a cherry or orange garnish–if you are feeling festive), and no special equipment (hurricane glasses are optional). By making the cocktail at home, you also have the advantage of carefully sourcing your ingredients. Decent rum? Check. Freshly squeezed lemon juice? Check. All natural, food dye-free passion fruit syrup? Double check.

hurricane ingredientsClassic Hurricane

4 ounces dark rum*
2 ounces passion fruit syrup**
2 ounces lemon juice


In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, dark rum, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice. Shake well, and pour the mixture into a hurricane glass (or any tall cocktail glass you have on hand) filled with crushed or cubed ice. Optionally, garnish with a cocktail cherry and/or a sliced orange wheel.

If mixology isn’t really your thing, and you want a quick and easy route to debauchery, you can always pick up a packet of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Cocktail Mix. It won’t taste like the classic cocktail, but it will approximate the version of the Hurricane currently being served at the famed French Quarter bar.

**Don’t know light rum from dark rum from rhum agricole? We’ve got you covered.

**The above recipe is true to the original Hurricane, but it runs a little sweet for my tastes. If I were making this for myself, I’d probably dial down the passion fruit syrup by a quarter or half ounce, and I’d maybe even up the lemon juice a splash (I’m a sucker for a tart cocktail). Don’t be afraid to play around with a recipe to customize it to your palate. That’s the fun of making cocktails at home!

1 Comment

  • Richard Sachs May 1, 2016 @ 12:24am

    Interesting recipe but I like to make it with real passion fruit juice and then one half to three-quarter ounce of your wonderful lovely syrup passion fruit. Next , I am a dash of your Grenadine syrup as well. 1 ounce lemon juice 2 ounces high-quality light Rum and two to ounces high-quality dark rum make this a drink from heaven. Shake and pour in a hurricane glass with cracked ice. Garnish with cherry pineapples live and orange wheel. To die for! Passionfruit juice is very hard to find. But whole foods or Amazon sell fruita brand FRESH with no sugar or GMO. It’s a match for your syrups from heaven! Thanks!

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