New Orleans and Sister Bay both celebrate with the Hurricane
What do the French Quarter in New Orleans and Fall Fest in Sister Bay have in common?
There’s public imbibing for starters, but one specialty cocktail has also connected the two locations since 2005. Once a year, when the annual Fall Fest is held, you could argue that both places are known for their abundance of Hurricanes: a sweet, rum-based drink that embodies the fun-loving spirit of street celebrations.
New Orleans Origins
The drink first appeared in New Orleans in the 1940s at a legendary bar called Pat O’Brien’s. At that time, whiskey and other spirits were harder to find because liquor factories in the U.S. had been repurposed to support World War II. Rum, on the other hand, was easily transported upriver from the Caribbean islands and was in surplus.
That situation left bartenders looking for ways to serve the readily available dark spirit. Pat O’Brien’s experimented with the booze, combining it with a suite of fruit juices and serving it in a new type of glass that resembled hurricane lamps — and thus, the Hurricane cocktail was born.
Today you’ll see versions of the Hurricane served throughout the country, but still most prominently and famously in the French Quarter. There, its fans enjoy their Hurricanes in plastic vessels on the streets, where public consumption is legal. Pat O’Brien’s, now known as the birthplace of the Hurricane, reports selling half a million glasses of the drink each year.
Fall Fest Origins
As for the Sister Bay Bowl’s Hurricane origins, it, too, has ties to New Orleans — albeit because of an actual hurricane rather than the distinctive glass in which it’s served.
Pete D’Amico, the husband of longtime Sister Bay Bowl staffer Rhonda D’Amico, is the person who’s been given official credit for establishing the Hurricane tradition. Back in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and especially New Orleans, he helped to raise funds for the disaster cleanup and gather groups of volunteers to travel to the area to assist with rebuilding homes.
It was in preparation for a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser at the Sister Bay Bowl that Pete suggested serving Hurricane cocktails.
“Pete started it when we fundraised and wanted a drink special for the event to go with the gumbo,” Rhonda said. “Everyone else was selling bloody marys and screwdrivers, so he thought we should do a fruity drink instead. And it took off.”
The new drink was a success, leading the Bowl to begin serving Hurricanes as a special offering during the next Fall Fest, which took place not long after Hurricane Katrina. The annual celebration brings thousands of fest-goers to the village, and the party atmosphere — like in the French Quarter — spills over into the street during the three-day event.
Since the Hurricane’s debut, it has become a Fall Fest tradition at the Bowl, and it’s a favorite indulgence for some revelers. (One year the bar sold festival T-shirts that read, “I got hit by a hurricane at Fall Fest.”)
The amount of Hurricane mix needed to prepare for the event seems to grow bigger each year. Paula Anschutz, general manager of the Sister Bay Bowl, reported making more than 120 gallons of pre-batched mix for the 2019 festival.
“To serve the drinks at Fall Fest,” Anschutz said, “we have an assembly line. One person preps the cups; one person pours the Hurricane; and one person takes the money.”
Although the festival is taking 2020 off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all are hopeful for a better-than-ever return in 2021. In the meantime, guests at the Sister Bay Bowl can still order a Hurricane at the bar.
Classic, New Orleans-Style Hurricane
2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
1/2 oz passion fruit purée
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 bar spoon grenadine
Orange half-wheel as garnish
Preserved cherry as garnish
Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a large Hurricane glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange half-wheel and a preserved cherry. Recipe source: Liquor.com.
Sister Bay Bowl-Style Hurricane
This version is less formal and can be adjusted to taste with more or less juice.
Equal parts light and dark rum
Equal parts pineapple and orange juice
Cherry as garnish
Lime wedge as garnish
Orange half-wheel as garnish
Pour all ingredients over ice and stir to combine. Garnish with a cherry, lime wedge and orange half-wheel.