The Hur­ricane is a Mardi Gras drink. Mark Naida | Col­legian

A common conceit of high school French cur­riculum — along with kitschy French names, the berets, and a summer trip getting lost in a throng of Parisian mon­ument gawkers — is the annual in-class mardi gras party where stu­dents practice the creole slang and dig into a King’s Cake for the little figure of baby Jesus.

But what stu­dents don’t get to expe­rience of the car­nival of car­nality that rolls through the French Quarter is the cup-filleth-over abun­dance of alcohol on the street. New Orleans permits open-carry in the streets, so long as the booze isn’t in a glass con­tainer. So when sun rises on Ash Wednesday, san­i­tation workers fill dump­sters full of beads and plastic cups. 

And those plastic cups were full of one popular Mardi Gras drink: the Hur­ricane.

After Hur­ricane Katrina threatened to destroy the whole city, the name seems ironic for the drink. But New Orleans has an attitude about it. So for a drink that is more than half booze and gen­erally served in a 26-ounce glass, it’s a fitting joke.

The drink was first made by Pat O’Brien, a New Orlean’s speakeasy owner, during World War II. Gov­ernment rations made sure the grains and sugar needed to produce spirits went to the troops during the war. But rum con­tinued to flow up from the Caribbean into Louisiana.

Due to shortages of popular liquor like scotch and whiskey, liquor dis­trib­utors forced bar owners to pur­chase 50 cases of cheap rum before they could buy they could get a single case of Ken­tucky rye.

Because of the rum stores building up in his back room, O’Brien started exper­i­menting with recipes, using passion fruit to add some sweetness, and lemon juice to cut the alcohol. He ended up with a drink that slides easily down the hatch. Shortly there­after, the password to get in to the bar became “Storm’s brewin’.”

Though Pat O’Brien’s bar now charges $8.50 for the drink today, the hur­ricane is perfect for a Mardi Gras cel­e­bration because it can be made cheaply and in large quan­tities.



4 ounces of Dark Rum (the cheaper the better)

2 ounces of Passion Fruit Juice (Welch’s, Torani, or Monin)

½ ounce of Lemon juice


Fill a plastic cup with ice.

Add ingre­dients.


If you are keeping track, this drink is mainly rum. The qual­ities that make the Hur­ricane the ambrosia of the French Quarter may make it a little vicious for new­comers to alcohol. Ice is a beau­tiful thing. It makes your drinks colder and is made of water, which is not alcohol. Use it lib­erally.

With some simple ingre­dients and some dis­posable cups, any Mardi Gras party can have the flavor of New Orleans.