The Hurricane is the cocktail of the New Orleans street party. Especially Mardi Gras. The hurricane has been changed so much over the years, until we find, too often today, is a sticky sweet slushy that is intended to get you drunk. Fast. The hurricane is a party drink, you can even get them at drive throughs in New Orleans. But there is another hurricane out there, the original. What I find odd is the original is not only better than its sweet relative, it is way easier to make. Substantially. So why the change?
The Lost Hurricane Ingredient
The issue is fassionola. Haven’t heard of it? Not surprised if you have not. Its a sweet and tart syrup made with passionfruit and tropical fruits. It got lost for a while, out of production. Or at least so low in production that anyone outside of New Orleans couldn’t get it easily. Bar tenders, never a lot to give up easily just made a Hurricane that tasted close enough to the original that the lost ingredient was not needed. Hurricanes lived on. Sadly, it got super sweet to hide the prodigious amounts of high octane rum that party goers often want. Now hurricanes come in a myriad of colors, flavors and alcohols, and from a fleet of slushy machines.
Back so soon? Well let’s get on with the Hurricane then.
Rum. Fassionola. Lemon.
You will find this hurricane more original is not only better than its sweet relative, it is way easier to make. Substantially so.
- 2 Oz of Rum (This drink is pretty forgiving, so try a rum you like, I like rums like Zucapa 23, Real McCoy 3 year, or Flor de Cana Extra Seco)
- 1 1/2 Oz Fassionola (see recipe above)
- 1 Oz Lemon juice.
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker full of crushed ice.
Shake well 10 seconds or so.
Dump all into a hurricane glass or brandy snifter.
Fill remining glass with ice.
Garnish with a windblown cocktail umbrella stuck in a pineapple wedge.
The Gods of Tiki
Here is where I need to apologize. Real Tiki drinks are not simple, they are not the “life hack” internet easy so common today. If you find a post that maybe says, “5 simple Tiki drinks”, they probably loosely based on the original concept. I am not saying are bad. In all likelihood they are great drinks, just not true to form Tiki cocktails. After making so many traditional Tiki cocktails, I will proclaim making them worth the effort. But make no mistake there is effort.
Rhums, Rums, Rons and What the Heck is Donns Mix?
Many Tiki drinks use 3 and up to 5 different rums. The call is oddly specific, so having all the rums is a real expensive pain. You can sub in other rums, but a black strap rum, sadly is not replaceable with a captain Morgan spiced. Also you will either have to buy or make things like Donns Mix, Orgeat, Allspice Dram, Fassionola, or Pearl Driver Mix. I’m a bit of a purist, but I cheat on this stuff too, so I’ll try to offer recommendations if there a riff or substitution. The difference in Rum, Ron or Rhum is the country of origin. It turns out in the rum world the flavor of a rum has almost nothing to do with the color, but nearly everything to do with where it is produced.
Luckily TIKI and tropical drinks are strong and the flavor profile is very forgiving, if you don’t have an ingredient and substitute, usually you will be okay. A substitute will usually taste great, and it will still suggest the flavor of the original. I riff Tiki drinks nine ways to Sunday, and within the reasonable bounds of the cocktail they are always good, usually fantastic.
Tale of Two Bartenders
This is not my story, but it is well researched. In fact there are several cocktail books that do a fantastic job of explaining the story of Donn Beach (born Ernest Gantt) and Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron Jr.). The basic gist is these two very successful bar owners were also fierce competitors, and exceptional showmen in their own right. Each bar, Don the Beachcomber, and Trader Vic’s are iconic and legendary bars that created the Tiki culture. While they shared a style, they did not share recipes. Quite the opposite. Unlike today where a recipe is plastered all over the internet, (guilty as charged here) their recipes were fiercely guarded. But guarding a recipe can only take you so far.
In addition they had secret ingredients in their drinks. Little mixes and concoctions that had special names, and ingredients only a trusted few knew. These ingredients are not complex, but important. I will share how to make many, but some you may want to buy.
Why bother with these shenanigans? In the 1950’s a bartender with the knowledge to make their wildly popular yet proprietary drinks could make a lot of money elsewhere. Sadly these recipes were lost until a research author Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry spent years meticulously uncovering them. Only recently have all these ingredients been known.
This level of secrecy has its benefits, but it has its downsides too. As the actual ingredients were a secret, bartenders all over the world just made their version of the cocktails with the same name and passed them off as the real thing. Think about unless you have been to the actual bars, how would you really know.
Navy Grog, Mai Tai, & the Zombie
The most popular Tiki drink is probably the Mai Tai. Until I started making my own I thought a Mai Tai was just a rum punch. Basically, fruit juice and strong rum. It is also so much more. Once I had a real Mai Tai, I was hooked, the other big drinks were the Navy Grog and the Zombie. A zombie is my absolute favorite Tiki drink, if you were wondering. These three are the trinity of Tiki. There are many more but this is the holy three. You will find these secret elixirs from the past are amazingly delicious.
Try our other amazing Tiki and Tropical cocktails: