The Hurricane was invented in 1942 at Pat O’Brien’s bar. It features heavy pours of dark and light rum, mixed with fruit juice. Its creation owed less to inspiration than to necessity, because Pat O’Brien had a bar full of rum that no one wanted to drink.
Back during Prohibition, Americans were happy to drink anything they could get their hands on, including bathtub gin, moonshine, and rum. But given their choice, they preferred whiskey. When Prohibition ended, whiskey sales soared, and those of other spirits plummeted. It was then that Pat O’Brien opened his namesake bar, Pat O’Brien’s, just off Bourbon Street in 1933. All of his patrons were thirsty for the whiskey they had been denied during the Great Mistake.
Not long after he opened his bar, Great Britain entered World War II. This moment was a difficult time for bar owners. Because of Prohibition, there was very little American whiskey available to drink. Most of it lay aging in barrels. Instead, American whiskey lovers drank whiskey from Canada and Great Britain. With Great Britain fighting the war, the Scotch and Irish whiskey supply dried up, and Pat O’Brien could only offer Canadian and American whiskeys. When the United States joined the war, all American whiskey distillers had to stop making whiskey and start making airplane fuel, as well as other products that required industrial-grade alcohol. American whiskey supplies plummeted. The only easily obtainable spirit was rum from the Caribbean.
Pat O’Brien’s liquor distributors required the bar to purchase twelve cases of rum for every case of whiskey it bought. Faced with an abundance of booze no one really wanted to drink, Pat O’Brien held a contest among his bartenders to invent a new cocktail using up all of this rum. Thus was born the Hurricane, named in honor of Pat O’Brien’s tenure as a Prohibition speakeasy owner, during which his bar’s password was storm’s brewing. The original hurricane recipe is delicious, featuring dark and light rum, as well as passion fruit and lime juice. As the drink grew in popularity, the bar cut corners, and now it’s made from a mix, resulting in a sugary concoction closer to Kool-Aid than a cocktail. It’s worth seeking out local rum-focused bars like Latitude 29, Tiki Tolteca, Cane & Table and The Black Duck, all of which make the original recipe and use real juice.