Hand Grenades and Hurricanes — two infamous cocktails that each, typically, have enough liquor in them to put you on your ass before you can even get around to ordering another one. If you’ve been to New Orleans, specifically Pat O’Brien’s (where the cocktail originated in 1941), you’ll know what I’m talking about. While there is no art in crafting a Hand Grenade (a mix of gin, rum, vodka, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice), the bastardized Hurricane cocktail actually has some sophistication to it when mixed properly.
Many Hurricane cocktails that make it onto menus are adulterated with absurd quantities of artificial, poorly made fassionola syrup — a pillar of the original recipe that’s lost to time, created by legendary tiki bartender, Donn Beach.
Now, contemporary cocktail bartenders have come up with a more balanced composition that ditches the amalgamation of fruit juices and syrups, which you’ll often find on Bourbon Street in NOLA, and employs a simple balance of citrus juice and sweetener to accompany the rum. “If it’s great rum, fresh citrus, and homemade passion fruit syrup then you’re going to have a great time,” Mitch Wilson, global ambassador for Black Tot rum, says, “and you’ll be ordering them all night — if you start seeing boxed juice and neon glow in the dark grenadine then maybe have a daiquiri first and see if you trust them to go all the way.”
Crafting the Best Hurricane
“At its best (and most basic), a Hurricane should be a very simple sour style swizzle — 2 parts rum, 1 part citrus, 1 part sweetener,” Gergö Muráth, bar manager at Trailer Happiness in London, says. Many of the neon-red Hurricanes that you’ll drink at bars use upwards of 4 ounces of rum, which is a bit hefty if not balanced properly. In the case of Muráth’s swizzle template, that would mean there would be 2 ounces each of citrus juice and syrup, if you were to include 4 ounces of rum.
Fresh citrus, not sour mix, is key. “The citrus is sometimes lime, but I prefer lemon,” Muráth says. To balance the sour, the sweetener is where many bartenders go wrong. If you are cocktail-savvy and can pull off a quality fassionola syrup, go for it; otherwise, sticking to a passion fruit syrup is the safe bet. “There are decent commercial options (Monin comes to mind), but your best bet is to buy a decent passion fruit puree (Boiron especially), and mix it with sugar syrup,” Muráth says. “I like using 2:1 (sugar to water), because it gives you fantastic texture, and you need less to achieve the ideal ratio.” Another great craft passionfruit syrup worth trying is by Small Hand Foods.
When it comes to which rum to choose, it’s best to employ a blended rum, or develop your own custom blend for depth and complexity. “For our house Hurricane (which happens to be my favorite drink on our menu) we use 2 ounces of Real McCoy 3 year from Barbados,” Muráth says. Muráth says it’s ideal to select something funky and flavorful from Jamaica, Barbados, or Guyana; or all three in the case of Black Tot rum. Rums such as Equiano, Denizen Merchant’s Reserve, and the Haitian Rhum Barbancourt are other expressions worth considering.
One you have your citrus, sweetener, and rum ready to mix, you’ll need lots of crushed ice as the dilution and temperature are key to crafting the perfectly balanced Hurricane.
- 2 ounces rum
- 1 ounce citrus juice (lemon or lime)
- 1 ounce passion fruit syrup
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake until chilled, then strain over crushed ice into a hurricane glass.
- Garnish with an orange wheel and a brandied Luxardo maraschino cherry.
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