This souvenir from the late 1940's / early 1950's couldn't be more bang on. You'd need a souvenir to make sure you remember a night after visiting Pat O'Brien's. No trip to New Orleans is complete without a few things, one of which is a trip to this legendary spot in the heart of the French Quarter to sample the original Hurricane. The Chef and The Dish team loves us a good Hurricane (or two). This sweet and fruity drink packs a punch. Like, a real punch. A punch so strong that by the time you've finished your first drink you're looking for a photo to remember the night.
With it being Mardi Gras, we decided to sit down with the creators of the first Hurricane, Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans, to get a heavy pour on the history of the Hurricane and its significance of it to New Orleans.
How would you describe a Hurricane to someone who has never tried one before?
"The Hurricane is sweet and strong so I tell people they have to try at least one, but they will sneak up on you, so pace yourself. All the time I'm met with people who tell me about the night they didn't listen to that advice. There are some funny videos online."
How did the Hurricane become New Orlean's most iconic cocktail?
"In the mid-1940s, Pat O'Brien (shown here with actor also named Pat O'Brien) created the now legendary Hurricane. At the time, there was a shortage of bourbon and scotch. Whiskey companies sent "missionary men" to accompany regular salesmen and coerced bar owners into buying large quantities of a not-so-popular, hard-to-unload booze, which happened to be rum -- in outrageous amounts. We were forced to buy 50 cases or so, in order to get the bourbon and scotch we wanted.
We had to get rid of a lot, so four ounces of the booze nobody wanted, through trial and error, made its way into a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp with fresh lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and crushed ice. And of course as you know, this has become the most famous drink in the most famous bar in the wonderful and lively city of New Orleans."
If someone is visiting New Orleans for the first time, Pat O’Brien’s is said to be a place you HAVE to visit. How did O’Brien’s become such a legendary spot in the historic French Quarter?
"Pat O'Brien's is a New Orleans original. This picture is one of our favourites and dates back to the 1940's. We've been around for a long, long time and have created some special things. We have multiple venues within Pat O'Brien's, including the Patio and Courtyard, the Main Bar and of course - our Piano Bar. You could come to Pat O'Brien's three nights in a row and have three entirely different experiences. And of course, we're consistent and are lucky to have an incredible staff."
Four ounces of alcohol is strong! For anyone who wants to venture into making their own Hurricane at home, what's in it - and do you have any tips?
"Well, of course we sell and ship our Hurricane mix on our website, so that's a great start. For anyone making a Hurricane at home, the key is the rum. Be sure to start with a good amber or gold rum (not a spiced rum) and good crushed ice."
In the party city of New Orleans, you must have hosted some epic parties. What are a few of your favourites?
"Over the years we've had some crazy fun events. New Orleans has hosted Sugar Bowls, Super Bowls, Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve, Halloween, St Patrick's Day, Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and the list goes on. One of our favourite moments was the night the Saints won the Super Bowl. ESPN was broadcasting live from the Patio and we needed to move them to the balcony overlooking the Patio because it was getting so crazy!"
Chef Gason tells us that almost everyday there is a line outside Pat O’s!
"That's true. We're a must-visit spot for many. Mardi Gras Day morning every year, we open early and we always have a line of regulars waiting - no matter how early we open. It's their tradition to start their Mardi Gras Day with a Pat O'Brien's Bloody Mary."
Speaking of traditions, you're the destination for even big anniversaries!
"Oh yes, we really do have so many regulars. Here's such a great picture of two of them - Frank and Ruthann Hoffmann celebrating their 10th (1956), 20th (1966) and 25th (1971) anniversaries with us. A Hurricane in every picture!"
And with any great cocktail, you need a fantastic meal to pair it with. What does Pat O’s suggest as the perfect creole food pairing with a Hurricane?
"Our menu is as New Orleans as can be. We have Alligator Bites, Crusted Oysters, Seafood Etouffée, Muffaletta, Blackened Chicken, Shrimp and Grits... But even with all that, there's no question about it, the New Orleans Trio. It's a sample of the essential creole dishes - Gumbo, Jambalaya and Red Beans and Rice."
Lucky for you, you can book a private cooking class in your home with Chef Gason. He'll Skype into your home from his kitchen in New Orleans. Together, you'll make New Orleans classics like Gumbo, Jambalaya, Po Boys, and lots more. Mardi Gras has never been more authentic, no matter where you are.
If you can't ship Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix to your location, here's a recipe for a traditional Hurricane - just to keep Mardi Gras going during your cooking class.
Traditional Hurricane Recipe:
2 oz Light Rum
2 oz Dark Rum
2 oz Passion Fruit Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Fresh Lime or Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Simple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Grenadine
Orange slices and Cherries
Combine the ingredients and shake in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a Hurricane glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice, drink and get ready!
Po Boys and Gumbo Cooking Class
Gumbo is a dish that takes years to master. Learn from the New Orleans Gumbo king himself. Skype Chef Gason into your home kitchen for a private cooking class. Learn how to make Gumbo and a traditional N'Awlins Po Boy. It's the ultimate soup and sandwich combo!
Jambalaya Cooking Class
One of our most popular cooking classes! Learn the secrets of how to make traditional Jambalaya, New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp and Creole Crab Cakes with Chef Gason from New Orleans. This epic class is one you'll never forget.