Back in my much younger and much poorer days, I went on a solo road trip across the Appalachian South and into the Mississippi Delta. I was living in Boston and working as a community organizer for a small housing nonprofit, which meant my personal transportation was a subway pass. Lacking the funds to rent a car, I got one via a company that matched drivers with people looking to ship their cars affordably. Your only expense was paying for gas while your choice of destinations was limited to whatever they had available.
I took off for a week and a half in late August in a Nissan that needed shipping from Nashua, NH to Houston -and more specifically, from Daddy’s leafy suburban McMansion to Princess’ off-campus condo near Rice University in Houston. Side trips to the Smokey Mountains, Graceland, B.B. King’s in Memphis, and Hope, Arkansas later, I wound up dropping off a car to Daddy’s Little Girl and realized Houston sucked. So courtesy of Greyhound, I hoofed it to New Orleans.
New Orleans, of course, has far too many awesome things for a brief booze-post to fit: the Preservation Hall jazz band, the wrought-iron Garden District, chicory-scented cafe au lait with fresh beignets, ancient mausoleums, jambalaya… However, being as I was in my twenties, most of the reason I was there was to party until I couldn’t see straight – which, as anyone who has hit Bourbon Street discovers, is easier than ordering a pizza, courtesy of vendors selling giant mugs of boozy, red slushy concoctions called Hurricanes. From what I can dimly recall, Pat O’Brien’s, the bar that invented the drink, served endless supplies of the brain killing juice in an outdoor courtyard featuring a flaming water fountain of all things.
In spite of the nasty sugary slurpee it was turned into, the original was actually a fairly tasty drink. Pat O’Brien, the original tavern owner in the 1940’s, was looking for a way to unload a lot of rum. During the war years, whiskey and scotch were in low supply, so distributors required bars to purchase quantities of the far more readily available rum before they could buy their quota of whiskey. Bred of necessity, Pat sold the drink in hurricane lamp-shaped novelty glasses to the ever present soldiers and sailors passing through town. And thus was a drink borne which would eventually become synonymous with Mardi Gras debauchery. This simplified recipe is surprisingly well-balanced and quite delish.
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. passion fruit syrup
Shake violently with ice and pour into goblet or large glass with ice shards. Garnish with cherry, pineaple or both.