Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hurricane Season & Hurricane Cocktails

What’s Brewing:  Hurricanes
An Inside look at Louisiana Hurricane Season

When I was a kid, I asked my Dad if we would get a bad hurricane that year (something I had never before encountered).  He told me that if you flip a coin over a map that included the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, you wouldn’t know where it would land.  That’s pretty much the same probability as a hurricane.  Sometimes the coin hits your city and sometimes it doesn’t.

But almost every year one looks like it’s heading your way. Sometimes you laugh because you know the media is over emphasizing a Tropical Depression. And, sometimes a police officer shows up on your doorstep telling you it’s seriously time to get out.

School was cancelled once when I was 12 (much like other parts of the world have snow days, we have hurricane days built in to the school year) because one of the shoddier weather services said a hurricane was heading straight for us.  But, the day proved to be blue skies and beautiful.

I remember asking my mom what would happen if a big hurricane ever really did hit us. And she calmly said, "Well it would probably change your life forever."  Man, was she right because three years later one did. 

Growing up on the New Orleans Northshore, I was so incredibly lucky. I did not lose my home or community. But living so close to the devastation, losing my grandmother’s home (and all of her photos) and school being closed for two months was all quite stressful. And Hurricane Katrina certainly did change everyone’s lives forever.  

I want to note that I do not feel like my situation was unique. In fact, I am fortunate to have maintained the normalcy that I did.

These things are on my mind because we are now in the worst part of hurricane season, August.  Many people don’t know that hurricane season spans from June to November, but August is peak hurricane season. Katrina, for example, hit in late August.

But, Katrinas don’t happen everyday.  You could be unlucky in the coin toss and get hit by a hurricane two years in a row, sure. Or, like what happened in New Orleans, you could have 40 years between bad storms.

In my research this summer, a lot of my interviewees have said the same thing, something I have also heard before.  Non-Louisianans ask natives why they rebuild at all if another hurricane could hit?  

The answer is simple: A) Most New Orleanians didn’t see destruction like Katrina until Katrina.  Many historic homes NEVER flooded until 2005. B) There are natural disasters everywhere. At least you can predict hurricanes. C) Quite simply, it’s home.

The Brew: Hurricanes      
A cocktail that can cause blackouts … the Hurricane

A hurricane so strong it turned my umbrella inside out. Photo by Robert Giglio.

New Orleans has found a way to cope with knowing another storm could be lurking in the Gulf.  The city simply does not lose its spirit and looks at hurricanes with a wicked sense of humor.  You can’t walk five feet in the French Quarter without seeing something satirical about Katrina. Heck, New Orleans is called the Crescent City because it dips in a crescent shape below sea level.  This mix of self-awareness and joie de vivre brings me to the hurricane, the cocktail that is …

Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter is home to the New Orleans Hurricane, not to be confused with the Bahama beverage of the same name. The drink is said to be a product of WWII when there was a Whiskey shortage, according to Pat O’s website.  In order to purchase one case of the liquor, one had to also buy a multitude of rum by the case, as supplies were too plentiful. To unload the rum, the hurricane was invented. And, it apparently was not named for the storm, but the shape of its glass, which resembled a hurricane lamp.

Whatever the reason, thank you Pat O’s.  And Cheers to safe hurricane season.

It’s no Pat O’s but here’s my Hurricane recipe:

·       1 -2 oz light rum
·       1-2 oz dark rum
·       2 oz orange juice
·       1 Tbsp lime juice
·       1 Tbsp triple sec
·       1 Tbsp grenadine

*1 oz = 1 shot, so feel free to vary the alcohol to your liking

To make yours taste like the Bourbon Street staple, you can buy Pat O’Brien’s hurricane drink mix in their online store.  


  1. As a native Louisiana girl from the NOLA area, I'm hoping Isaac doesn't give y'all too much trouble...and for the rest of hurricane season to be calm one!

    But I do miss those Hurricanes (the drink).

    1. Thanks Stacey! I appreciate your well wishes. Let's hope Isaac doesn't get too strong. From one Louisiana girl to another, have a hurricane (the good kind)!


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