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The Curari Cocktail

Yes, it’s a very obscure ingredient. Don’t blame me, blame Dr. Cocktail! It’s his fault! He’s the one who gets me to fall in love with all this stuff that’s impossible to find!

(A brief digression … other than truly vintage items like Abbott’s bitters and 13-year-old bonded Old Overholt rye distilled before Prohibition, hidden during and then bottled afterward, a fair bit of the impossible-to-get stuff he’s turned me on to way back when is now available, like allspice dram, Crème Yvette, falernum and more. Life in the cocktail world is really good these days.)

Amaro Cora

The idea to post this drink this week came from my having bought a bottle of ruby port to make the St. Charles Punch the other day. It was a Warre’s Warrior Port — a perfectly nice, respectable everyday port, about $14 at the corner market. It’s not one I’d rhapsodize about, but it’s perfect for mixing in cocktails. (The Dow’s 1994 Vintage Porto I got Wesly for his birthday is most decidedly not for mixing, but for sipping, savoring and rhapsodizing.) This’ll probably spark several port-based cocktail posts over the next week or so, so stay tuned.

The key ingredient in this drink is Amaro Cora — ahh, I so do dearly love amari — an Italian digestivo (and light enough to work as an aperitivo as well) from Turin in Piemonte, sweeter than most amari, with flavors of orange, cinnamon and other spices. This is a really good entry-level amaro, and probably the one I should have tried first instead of the one which I did, which was Fernet Branca, which at the time scared the crap out of me.

Better yet, Amaro Cora isn’t impossible to find — it’s still made, but it’s a mother to track it down in this country. In the July/August 2007 issue of Imbibe magazine Doc describes how he stumbled across the ingredient in the most excellent 1937 tome The Café Royal Cocktail Book from the UK and describes his reaction to it (something along the lines of “Aha … what is this? It’s still made?! What does it taste like? I don’t care, I must have it!”) and an amusing tale of Argentinean internet auctions, second-hand translations and losing money.

But you can still get it! It just takes a bit of effort, easily done. The only place I currently find it is via Mount Carmel Wines and Spirits in the Bronx, for the princely sum of $9.99. It’s lovely stuff. If you’re interested in Italian bitters you must have it. You can order it over the Internetsss and it’s cheap. So what are you waiting for?

The first drink Doc tried it in was a vintage cocktail from Café Royal called the Amarosa (for which he adapted the proportions for modern tastes and balance), then came up with this original, which he served to Wesly and me at a soirée chez lui several years ago.

This is a wonderful drink … one of the best Doc has ever come up with, I think. With the rich, spicy base of a rye whiskey underneath, the fruity notes of the port explode with ripe cherries and blackberries, and the Cora provides a hint of bitterness but marvelous citrus and cinnamon spice to accent the fruit, and the Regans’ give a perfect little boost to both the bitter and citrus notes. So much going on in here, and it’s all fun.

Even though he doesn’t mention it in his Imbibe piece, I could swear that when Doc first served this to us it was garnished with a cinnamon stick, a perfectly logical garnish given the spice notes in the drink. (Caveat — I was undoubtedly hammered at the time, an occupational hazard everlastingly delightful side-effect of being a houseguest of Doctor and Nurse Cocktail.) If one is not handy, an orange peel would not be at all inappropriate.

The Curari Cocktail

(by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh)

2 ounces rye whiskey
3/4 ounce ruby port
3/4 ounce Amaro Cora
2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a proper cherry on a cocktail pick.

You really should pick up some Amaro Cora. Did I mention that it was cheap? (Well, I mean inexpensive, of course.)


Jazzfest 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let’s put one thing on the table straight away — Jazzfest is great and always will be, and I had a great time. So much fantastic music and food, how can you not?

There were a few things I wanted to single out as being particularly good, though, plus the disappointments, plus something that makes me growl. I’ll throw in another few tidbits about the visit itself, not necessarily Jazzfest-related, because I’m a great big cheatin’ bastard.

The Good

Almost every single musical act we saw the entire time at the Fair Grounds (with a few quibbly exceptions). The Bester Singers, Chocolate Milk, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Theresa Andersson, Susan Cowsill (who’s always been good, but with her maturation as an artist in the last 2-3 years she’s become great), Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots, Paul Sanchez, Elvis Costello and his marvelous acoustic arrangements of his older material, nifty covers and his new stuff with the Sugarcanes, the Fleur de Ladies Brass Band (who kicked MAJOR ass), the astonishing New Orleans Spiritualettes, John Boutté, The Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra, The New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Henry Butler, Band of Horses, Sonny Landreth, Anders Osborne, Charmaine Neville, Clarence “Frogman” Henry (still got it!), Feufollet, my old schoolmate Tim Laughlin, Trombone Shorty (with special guest Mystikal), the Neville Brothers (still at it), and Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias to take us out.

One thing that surely belongs in “The Good” was something I only heard about second-hand, unfortunately — Earth, Wind & Fire’s last-minute substitution for the missing Aretha Franklin. From all accounts they really tore it up, and although I wouldn’t have thought to go see them had they been scheduled, Wes and I both wish now that we’d made it over there to hear them.

Finally, in the music department, we were frequently very moved and touched by all the musicians who dedicated songs and shows to our friend Mary, who passed away on Mardi Gras Day this year. Paul Sanchez, Susan Cowsill, Tim Laughlin, Dave Alvin and more … although we miss her very much we felt good to see and hear how far and wide was her impact on people’s lives. We had a very, very special cochon de lait po-boy for her and our friend Dave, who left us last July. Jazzfest wasn’t the same without them but there were still there with us the whole time nonetheless. As Paul Sanchez said, “We celebrate life by releasing what’s in us. We celebrate life by remembering those who can’t celebrate life with us right now.”

The Fat Pack

Two great new additions to the Jazzfest food lineup made us very happy this year. The standout dish: Shrimp & Grits, by Fireman Mike. A truly amazing dish — plump shrimp in a creamy, slightly spicy gravy over cheesy stone-ground grits. Simple yet full of flavor and nicely filling, this was the only savory dish we went back for twice.

The other standout — La Divina Gelateria, open in New Orleans since mid-2005, made their debut appearance at the Fair Grounds this year, and if you ask me it was long overdue. Sure, we all love Angelo Brocato’s and their ices, spumoni and biscotti, but La Divina kept it exciting with a special feature, the Flavor of the Day — each day, something different. The first Friday’s flavor was Abinsthe Sorbetto, made with Lucid Absinthe and absolutely stellar. It was wonderfully creamy, with the alcohol content of the absinthe making smaller ice crystals leading to the creamier texture but with no cream content, a nice anise flavor and the broad herbal undertone holding it all up. Magnificent. The other flavors of the day were strawberry balsamico sorbetto, Bananas Foster, sweet potato, Creole cream cheese, pineapple-mint sorbetto and finally the amazing Coco Thai sorbetto, made from a coconut milk base with coconut, lime and Thai pandan leaf, very unusual and very delicious. Of the regular flavors, they offered café au lait, crème brulée, stracciatella and my favorite, Chocolate Azteca … rich and creamy dark chocolate gelato spiked with cinnamon, almond and hot chile. (Um, I had that three times. I ate a LOT of gelato and sorbetto at the Fest.) And on top of all that, we made friends with Carmelo and Katrina, the couple who co-own the gelateria, and they are super-nice folks.

Then there were the perennials, food-wise … the stuff that’s always there, and always good. We got our pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo from Prejean’s, the marvelous cochon de lait, soft shell crabs, Vaucresson’s sausages. But as happy as all that food makes me, the thing that’s kept me the happiest the longest, and has been a thread of food connection going back for more years than I realized, is the single most underrated and almost criminally under-noticed food item at Jazzfest: Creole’s Stuffed Bread, from Creole’s Lunch House in Lafayette.

For more years than I could remember (at least as I entered the Fair Grounds for Jazzfest for the first time this year), the first thing I’d do is head to the Creole’s Stuffed Bread booth, just to the left of the Crawfish Monica booth, where all the long lines are. Crawfish Monica is good, but I can make that at home. That simple-sounding but magical combination of ground beef and pork fresh sausage, slices of smoked sausage, spices, minced jalapeños and just enough cheese to hold it all together, inside a thin, crisp bread shell is just one of the best things I’ve ever had. They kick the everlovin’ ass of Natchitoches meat pies, which I find bland in comparison. I eat at least one Creole’s Stuffed Bread every day at Jazzfest and have been for many years.

I love them. And I adore the nice lady who makes them and sells them from that booth every year, Mrs. Merlene Herbert, who remembers me by face (if not by name) every year. The year after the storm and the Federal Flood, the very important and emotional Jazzfest of 2006, I made a beeline to her booth only to find out that it wasn’t there. I was horrified, and hoped that it wasn’t hurricane-related; Hurricane Rita, which slammed southwest Louisiana less than a month after Katrina devasted the Gulf Coast further east, largely spared the city of Lafayette. The news was bad, though — Miss Merlene’s husband had passed a few months earlier, and she couldn’t bring herself to do the months of work required to bake and freeze the large quantity the stuffed breads she needed to prepare for Jazzfest. I missed her and her food too much, so in the midweek between Jazzfest weekends as we headed to the annual crawfish boil we attend in Eunice, I made a detour to the Lunch House in Lafayette to see her and enjoy her food. She was astonished by our visit, and I wish we had had more time to spend with her, but unfortunately we had to take our breads to go in order to make it to the crawfish boil. (I was so hell-bent on Stuffed Bread that I passed right by a sign at a gas station in Opelousas that said “tasso sandwiches,” and I didn’t hear the end of that for about two years, but that’s another story.)

I was trying to remember exactly how many years it had been that I’d been happily gobbling down Creole’s Stuffed Bread at Jazzfest, and I asked Miss Merlene how long she had been vending at Jazzfest. “1989, honey … it’s been 21 years.” Wow. And although I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across her dish, I know I was there in ’89, and have been enjoying them ever since.

I’ll tell a little secret, which I hope doesn’t get me in trouble. One day during Fest this year we went to see Miss Merlene as usual, money already in hand to pay for my Stuffed Bread. “Put that away, dawlin’,” she said. “This one’s on me.” Holy bejeebies … that was a first! It may have been a first-ever, as the younger man who was working in the booth with her did a double-take worthy of a Tex Avery cartoon, and the look on his face said, “She’s never done THAT before!” Well, folks, all I can say is … eat one every Fest day for 21 years and you might get a free one some day too.

Twenty-one years of Creole’s Stuffed Bread was very notable for me in “The Good” this year. May there be many more.

Finally … the rain. Rather, the relative lack thereof. Sure, we got a little soaked the first day, but it wasn’t too bad. Actually, the mud the next couple of days was worse, but the weather on the first Saturday and Sunday couldn’t have been more comfortable. This kept up until the second Sunday, last day of the Fest, when it did sprinkle a little bit but nothing remotely daunting. I don’t know what kind of deal Quint Davis made (not, one would hope, with the guy with the horns and the cape), but whatever he did, he did it right. No sooner had the Nevilles, the Radiators, the Wild Magnolias and all the other finishing acts played their last note when the weather started looking seriously threatening, giving us just enough time to walk back to our car and get inside before the rain, as Wesly put it, started “pounding down like a fucking monsoon.” Talk about timing.

Continue reading …

The St. Charles Punch

This coming Saturday, May 15, as part of World Cocktail Week, Cure in New Orleans (one of my favorite bars anywhere) is holding an event called “Bartending by the Book” which will benefit the Museum of the American Cocktail and the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society. This’ll be an interesting event, because the Cure bartenders are holding themselves to follow classic recipes from one of the city’s most venerable imbibing tomes, Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em, as difficult as that may be given the differences in ingredients between then and now.

Doubly interesting, as the creative bartenders at Cure tend to use the old recipes as jumping-off points rather than hew faithfully to them. At this event you’ll be in a bit of a cocktail time machine, sipping history as closely as we can get it.

The four drinks they’ve chosen for this event include the familiar — the Daiquiri, the Stinger and the Vieux Carré — and one that might not be so familiar, although it’s local. That one’s the St. Charles Punch, named not for the grand streetcar- and oak-lined avenue stretching from Canal Street to the Riverbend, but for the grand hotel which once existed there. Or one of them, at least.

The St. Charles Hotel actually had three incarnations. The first one was designed by the architect James Gallier, whose name was given to Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans’ city hall from 1853 to 1958. It was the first truly grand hotel in the city, which was up until then not known for luxurious accommodations (nor for well-built ones, like the Planters Hotel, which collapsed into the soft soil in 1835, burying sixty people and killing a third of them)¹.

According to Mary Cable’s book Lost New Orleans, it was quite a sight:

The St. Charles was certainly no common structure. It was taller than any building in New Orleans — six stories, surmounted by a gleaming white dome that could be seen for miles up and down the river. According to Norman’s 1845 guidebook, “The effect of the dome upon the sight of the visitor, as he approaches the city, is similar to that of St. Paul’s in London.” Mr. Norman, beside himself with admiration, went on to speak of the “indescribable effect of the sublime and matchless proportions of this building upon all spectators — even the stoical Indian and the cold and strange backwoodsman, when they first view it, are struck with wonder and delight.”²

The St. Charles Hotel, 1836-1851, from <i>Lost New Orleans</i>, by Mary Cable

The St. Charles Hotel, 1836-1851, from Lost New Orleans, by Mary Cable

It wasn’t around long; “[t]his spendid pile lasted a bare fifteen years. In the spring of 1851 a fire that started in the kitchen spread through defective chimney flues and within three hours the entire hotel was in ashes.” Miraculously, no one was killed. Perhaps it was for the best; “according to a contemporary architect (not Gallier) the foundations had settled at least 28 inches, the external walls were cracked and the floors were ‘very undulating.’”³

A second hotel went up in the same spot, designed by Isaiah Rogers and George Purvis, very much like Gallier’s Greek revival original but without the great dome. It opened a mere two years later and was itself burned to the ground in 1894.

The 2nd St. Charles Hotel, 1853-1894

The 2nd St. Charles Hotel, 1853-1894

Third time’s a charm … the third St. Charles Hotel went up on the same site two years later in 1896 and was quite a nice hotel, albeit without the grandeur of its predecessors.

The 3rd St. Charles Hotel, 1896-1974

The 3rd St. Charles Hotel, 1896-1974

For about sixty years it was a New Orleans favorite for Mardi Gras balls, coming-out parties, high-level political meetings and as a rendezvous for the elite, to whom it was the equivalent of New York’s old Ritz-Carlton. For no imperative reason, the third St. Charles was demolished in 1974. The ghosts of three memorable buildings now hover above a parking lot.4

According to Arthur this punch was a specialty of the bar at the St. Charles Hotel (presumably the third) and was in great demand among its patrons. I’m not sure it’s technically a punch, as the proportions are nowhere near the classic “1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong and 4 of weak, plus spice.” There’s not much weak in here, no spice and it’s a very tart punch.

That said, it’s a delightful punch and goes down … dangerously quickly.

St. Charles Punch

(adapted from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s
Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em)

1 teaspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
1/3 teaspoon orange curaçao (1 dash)
1-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 ounces ruby port
1 ounce Cognac

Arthur’s original instructions: “Dissolve the sugar with a little water in a mixing glass. Add the lemon juice, the port wine, the Cognac, and last the curaçao. Fill the glass with fine ice and jiggle with the barspoon. Pour into a long thin glass, garnish with fruit, and serve with a straw. [...] Don’t omit the straw; this drink demands long and deliberate sipping for consummate enjoyment.”

I loved Anita‘s comment from the photo’s Flickr page: “Any drink that looks that good can demand pretty much anything it likes.”

I did without the original teaspoon of granulated sugar and splash of water, and substituted a rich simple syrup for ease of use. I also upped the curaçao to a teaspoon so it wouldn’t get lost — I am a fan of dashes of ingredients in cocktails, but I wanted the orange flavor to be a bit more there, and a tad more sweetness to counter the lemon. I also used cubed ice in the photo because I’m a lazy bastard. Don’t be like me — crush your ice!

1. Mary Cable, Lost New Orleans (New York; American Legacy Press, 1980), pp. 108-109.

2. Ibid., p. 109.

3. Ibid., p. 111.

4. Ibid., p. 114.


“Treme” Explained

“Hey, you seen ‘Treme?’”

When I was back home in New Orleans, HBO’s new locally-based series was the talk of the town. With practically everyone I talked to, the feelings are overwhelmingly positive. Although there are some “Treme”-haters (and one is certainly welcome to dislike the show for one’s own reasons), they seem to be in the minority, as New Orleanians for the most part embrace the show and have been organizing “Treme” watching parties, in private homes and organized in public places, like the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home on St. Philip Street in the show’s namesake neighborhood.

Given that I’ve been out of town I’ve been remiss in writing about the show myself, but here are my feelings in a nutshell. I love it.

Some people quibble about little inaccuracies in the geography or culture, mostly anachronisms (“That wasn’t open for two more months after this is set!”), but all that can be easily brushed away. The producers and writers are going well out of their way to be true to the culture and spirit of the city, and the story they’re putting together serves a greater truth. We also must remember that this isn’t a documentary, it’s fiction — they’re telling a story, and fictional and fictionalized elements of reality enter into it. It all boils down to the story they’re telling rings true to so many New Orleanians, reflective of their feelings and experiences after the storm and the Federal flood.

The characters, many of them based on real people, ring true as well. We’ve known people like this. The most astonishing character of all is Clarke Peters’ Big Chief Albert Lambreaux — not only the standout character on the show, but one of the standout characters in any show I’ve ever seen. His dignity, determination, pride and complexity are a rare thing in episodic television, and to think … he’s portraying the black Mardi Gras Indian community and doing it well! The respect and honor shown to the Indian culture by this show blows me away, and as far as I know it’s the first and only portrayal of that rich subculture of New Orleans outside of a documentary.

Here are a couple of my own photos of Indians parading in the Tremé on Mardi Gras Day 2006, the first one post-Katrina.

Me Big Chief, me feelin' good ...

Get out de way!

Because I’m behind, this is going to be sorta five posts in one — let’s get going.

Dave Walker, longtime television writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is one of many New Orleanians who’ve been writing about the show. Da Papuh has an entire sub-site about “Treme,” and one feature Dave’s been writing each week is called “‘Treme’ Explained,” which is a guide to all the unexplained references to New Orleans in each episode. These are li’l tidibits that most New Orleanians are probably going to catch, but lots of people from elsewhere probably won’t. It helps make the show that much richer on your second, third and subsequent viewings.

Here are links to the columns so far, with a few excerpts and other tidbits. There are a few spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the first five episodes yet, you might want to refrain from reading further until you have.


Episode 1: “Do You Know What It Means?”

My first reaction after seeing the pilot episode: “I could not have dreamed that it would be this good.” Quibbles notwithstanding.

For starters, view a comprehensive archive of the Times-Picayune’s Katrina coverage, including an animated map of the levee failures.

It’s pronounced treh-MAY. Or TREH-may. Or … oh, just watch the video.

A second line is a neighborhood street parade. Typically, participants include a sponsoring social aid and pleasure club and brass band (the main line) and whoever else wants to participate (the second line). Second line photos and videos.

Social aid and pleasure clubs date to the late 19th century. One of their early functions was to provide funeral insurance for members. David Kunian – WWOZ-FM show host and ace New Orleans music documentarian – has the written the definitive piece.

The second line that opens the premiere of “Treme” is meant to re-create a second line staged on Oct. 9, 2005 in honor of Austin Leslie (a photo of Leslie can be glimpsed, very briefly, on an attendee’s fan).

TV-history bonus: Austin Leslie was a master of Creole soul food who served as one of the inspirations for the great CBS TV comedy “Frank’s Place,”  He died in Atlanta at age 71 a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

The bridge causing Davina Lambreaux so much anxiety is the Crescent City Connection, which spans the Mississippi River and links the east and west banks of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, people attempting to evacuate the flooded east bank across the bridge to the dry west bank were turned back by law enforcement. Stories here and here.

The opening theme is “Treme Song,” by John Boutte. It’s playing on a loop in my head and also here.

The WWOZ-FM 90.7 live stream is here.

The song that plays under the closing credits is “My Darlin’ New Orleans” by Little Queenie. Hear it on her MySpace page here.

I’m generally not one to toot my own horn, but “My Darlin’ New Orleans” is back in print and available for the closing credits because I put it on the “Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans” box set six years ago. I’m proud to have made my li’l contribution there.


Continue reading …

The (Original) Hurricane Cocktail

The legendary Pat O’Brien’s Bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Opened its doors on December 3, 1933, two days before the end of Prohibition (well, ya had to have a coupla days to get ready).

As the story goes, back in the 1940s the bar’s partners Benson “Pat” O’Brien and Charlie Cantrell were forced by liquor wholesalers to order as many as 50 cases of rum along with whatever other spirits they wanted, or else no deal. There was a glut of rum post-Prohibition and the dealers wanted to move it. Problem was, Pat and Charlie couldn’t care less about it. What the hell are we going to do with all this rum?! Their solution — create a drink to use up all this rum. After some tinkering they wound up with a powerful mixture of rum, passion fruit syrup and fresh lemon juice and created a taste sensation.

Pat O’Brien’s is quite possibly the most popular bar in the French Quarter, certainly among tourists — (a Times-Picayune article on the history of the place from a couple of years ago said that 95% of all first-time New Orleans tourists go there. You’ll even sometimes see some locals in there, although probably not so much as in older days. The Main Bar and Piano Bar in the front were once popular haunts for locals, and the Courtyard Bar, with its flaming fountain, is one of the most beautiful bar spaces in the city, and you should really go see it if you haven’t … as long as you don’t mind sharing the space with loud tourists and Texas frat boys.

There’s just one little problem — the drinks are pretty terrible.

Oh, you can get some okay mixed drinks there, but … well, Pat O’Brien’s put me off Mint Juleps for years because I made the mistake of ordering my first one there. I got a bright green concoction made with mint syrup and not a speck of fresh mint other than a wilted garnish that looked and tasted like Scope, and the bartender actually mocked me when he served it to me.

Regarding the Hurricane as currently served at Pat O’Brien’s, I have one word for you: sweet sweet sweet Sweet SWEET! (Okay, one word five times.) Rum? Oh yes, and lots of it, four whole ounces per drink. They go through a lot of it; it’s said that Pat O’s is the single largest purveyor of rum in the world. Passion fruit? Um … not so much. I’d say that flavor is undetectable in the drink. Lemon juice? Zilch. There is no balance of tart in this drink. Did I mention that it’s SWEET? Teeth-shatteringly sweet.

“A stealthy drink” is how my friend Chris Clarke once described it, and that it is. It’s like an alcoholic kool-aid in which you cannot taste the alcohol. And you can forget about any fresh ingredients — the recipe at the bar is rum (I don’t know which one they use in their well) plus “Hurricane mix,” which at the bar is a premade, artificially colored, artificially flavored bottled red stuff, which is also available in envelopes in powder form.

Powdered "Hurricane Mix" ... ick

If you’re serious about cocktails, this isn’t anything you really want to be drinking.

In fact, in a post from Tales of the Cocktail’s weblog a while back, the Hurricane was listed as one of the worst drinks on Bourbon Street (then again, can you get a good drink on Bourbon Street anywhere past Galatoire’s?). Research for this post resulted in a highly amusing photo of a bunch of cocktail bloggers sucking down their Hurricanes like mother’s milk.

Shamelessly purloined from Trader Tiki

Shamelessly purloined from Trader Tiki

They look thrilled, don't they?

I don’t know when Hurricanes stopped using passion fruit syrup and citrus and when they started being red, but if you look at the list of ingredients — rum, passion fruit syrup and lemon juice — you don’t see anything red in there. Perhaps someone dumped grenadine in it once, and that evolved into the syrup … I really don’t know. If you do, let me know.

When I was in college, having just moved to Los Angeles from New Orleans, I was really homesick and didn’t know a damn thing about proper drinking. My homesickness caused me to bring back many envelopes of that awful powder and throw “Hurricane Parties,” the object of which was to socialize and get stinking drunk. (To be honest, we did have a great time, even though after the first round or two I stopped using “the good rum,” i.e. Bacardi, ahem, and started mixing them with plain wrap rum that was probably a step above tiki torch fuel.) If I didn’t have the powder, I used a a “faux-Hurricane” recipe that I found in an old local cookbook called La Belle Créole calling for a mix made with 46 ounces of Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch (back in the olden days, that was “one large can”), one 12-oz. can of frozen orange juice concentrate, and one 6-oz. can of frozen lime daiquiri mix. Though it didn’t taste all that much like the Hurricanes served at Pat O’s it was fruity, red, and we were too drunk to be able to tell the difference anyway.

A long time ago I found a recipe somewhere — I think it may have been in the Times-Picayune — to make a Hurricane out of all fresh ingredients. It looked pretty good, and I tweaked it to suit my tastes. It didn’t taste much like what was served at Pat O’s, but it was a pretty nice tropical drink and it was still true to the rum-passion fruit-citrus base. (It’s also nothing like the actual Original Hurricane; I’ll teach you how to make that in a bit. Keep reading.)

I had that older recipe up in an previous version of the website for ages, and it ended up in Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. Here’s that version, slightly adapted; gaz swapped out lemon juice for my lime. If you can find fresh passion fruit juice or purée, use 2 ounces of that plus 1/2 ounce of simple syrup instead of the passion fruit syrup, otherwise mix as below:

Hurricane Cocktail: A Variation
(adapted from my recipe as published in The Joy of Mixology)

1-1/2 ounces light rum
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces passion fruit syrup
1 teaspoon of real pomegranate grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled Hurricane glass or tiki glass. Garnish with a “flag” made of an orange slice and a cherry on a cocktail pick.

This is still a bit sweet but not nearly as sweet as the Pat O’Brien’s premix Hurricane, and it’s all fresh and not artificial.

Oh, and don’t skimp on the passion fruit syrup, either for the above variation or the real thing below. The go-to passion fruit syrup for years has been Trader Vic’s, but it has been reformulated with artificial ingredients and is no longer acceptable. You can get passion fruit syrup from Monin or Torani, opinions of which range from decent to acceptable to yuck, but you’ll really want to go to Aunty Lilikoi from Hawaii and order the best in the world. Seriously, it’s an order of magnitude or two better than the aforementioned ones.

As I understand it the original drink was made with lemon juice. If you’re a stickler for history and if you prefer it that way, use freshly squeezed lemon juice and you’ll be drinking some true New Orleans history. However, I think that lime works so much better and so perfectly in this drink that at home we make it with lime juice. Try it both ways and see which one you prefer.

For the rum try Appleton V/X from Jamaica, or Old New Orleans Amber Rum for a local touch. Jeff “Beachbum” Berry likes Gosling’s Black Seal, and Matt “Rumdood” Robold prefers Coruba “by a factor of about a billion point seven.”

This is for a reasonably-sized drink, not the super-sized one you typically see; unless I’m seriously getting my tiki on, perhaps quaffing at Tiki Ti when someone else is driving, the original proportions might be a bit much. That proportion called for four ounces of spirit, and two ounces of each of the other ingredients. If you want a big one served in a hurricane glass, just double this recipe, then prepare for blottofication.

The (Original) Hurricane Cocktail

(adapted from the original recipe as seen in
Beachbum Berry Remixed, by Jeff Berry)

2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Aunty Lilikoi passion fruit syrup
1 ounce fresh lemon juice (the original recipe) or lime juice (which I prefer)
Orange slice and cherry.

Combine rum, syrup and juice with ice and shake vigorously until the mixing tin frosts. Serve in a double Old Fashioned glass or tiki glass over crushed ice, and garnish with an orange and cherry "flag."

Now THAT’S a Hurricane, brah.


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