I met our good friends, Bobby & Shilpa, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. They had relocated to South Carolina after the storm because Bobby had grown up here. Their home, along with eighty percent of New Orleans, LA, was underwater for weeks. The hurricane took almost everything from them: their home, their belongings, their jobs, their city.
In a way I could relate to their struggles. I grew up near Charleston, SC and experienced both Hurricane David (1979) and Hurricane Hugo (1989). Both storms, particularly Hugo, destroyed large sections of my hometown. David ripped the siding from our house; we found it blocks away. After Hugo blew through Charleston, it left trees in my family’s house. I was without electricity for 5 weeks and out of school and job for more than 6 weeks.
This weekend, August 29th, marks the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Our friends are hosting a Hurricane party to mark the occasion and celebrate their post-Katrina lives. They have invited South Carolina friends, as well as some New Orleans friends, to mark the occasion with authentic Bayou cuisine and some great cocktails.
Shilpa asked me to select a batch cocktail for the party. She and I reviewed all of the great cocktails associated with New Orleans…Sazerac, French 75, Hurricane, Ramos Gin Fizz, Vieux Carré, etc. To me, serving Hurricanes for the “Hurricane” party was a requirement but Shilpa initially disagreed. Shilpa has a sophisticated palette and she hates sugary cocktails. The thought of serving day-glow red, pixie-stick sweet, Hurricanes made her skin crawl; sorry Pat O’Brien’s.
I explained that we could use the original Hurricane recipe published in Beachbum Berry Remixed. A simple drink with only three ingredients: Dark Jamaican rum, passion fruit syrup, and fresh lemon juice. It is an exotic, funky, tart drink that is a perfect representation of Shilpa and the city of New Orleans.
Two of the ingredients were easy: fresh lemon juice is easy. I chose Myer’s Dark Jamaican Rum because it is plentiful and sports a funky flavor profile. The third ingredient has proven a bit trickier. Passion Fruit syrup is not commonly available around Columbia, SC. For many months I have tried to find a source for Passion Fruit puree so that I can make my own syrup. But puree has been allusive to find and is costly to order. Instead I ordered five different Passion Fruit syrups online: Monin, Barcarola, Torani, DaVinci, and Tea Zone.
To determine the best syrup, I invited a small group of friends over to taste-test Hurricanes and provide feedback. During the tasting we were surprised that each cocktail had their own unique flavors. When we were finished all five versions my group settled on Torani Passion Fruit Syrup as their top choice. The Torani’s strong passion fruit flavor and aroma blended well with the funky Jamaican rum and the tart lemon juice. Note: I personally preferred the Barcarola because it allowed the rum to shine a bit brighter than the Torani’s heavier tropical juice flavor did.
This weekend our country will be reflecting on the devastation and heartbreak that Hurricane Katrina brought a decade ago. Many, like Bobby and Shilpa, will also be celebrating life, family, and good friends.
Original Hurricane (Beachbum Berry Remixed)
2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
4 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Myer’s Dark)
Shake all ingredients together with ice; pour, ice and all, into a Hurricane glass or large tiki mug, and top up with more ice as needed. Serve with a straw.