What we think of as culture is rarely outright created, rather it evolves from a variety of existing cultures and influences. Tiki culture is no different. It is the ultimate pastiches of ancient superstitions of far-flung islands, surfer wisdom and the collected lore of all seafaring men brought under an umbrella in post-World War II America by a veteran named Ernest Raymond Gantt, better known as “Don the Beach Comber” or just “Donn Beach”, and partially lost again to history to be reconstructed by a whole slew of beach bums, bar owners, Hawaiian shirt enthusiasts, corporate entities and superstars like Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett.
One of the “Cult of Tiki’s” most famous creations might be the Hurricane, a headache sweet rum drink, sipped in large novelty hurricane-lantern-shaped glasses on the streets of New Orleans. It is also a drink anyone can make. Hurricane mixes, syrups or powders are sold everywhere and whipped into a blender with a rum from a plastic handle and some ice can be a great way to pass a summer days, until the subsequent hangover.
Earliest references to the famous cocktail date back to at least 1938. Reportedly the cocktail was developed for the “Hurricane Bar” at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. It is hard to find a description of what was served but the 1939 film Naughty But Nice, features a drink called the Hurricane that appears to be lemonade and a hefty pour of rum in high ball glass.
My theory is that the exposure from the World’s Fair and Warner Bros. musical comedy thrust the drink into the public parlance and bars across the country began to take a crack at exactly what a Hurricane is.
The most famous iteration is Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans. The bar reportedly came up with the drink in 1940 as a way to dispose of excess rum. This was before they concocted their signature “world famous” pre-mix. Reportedly the staff mixed dark rum, tropical fruit syrup and lemon juice and poured it into the iconic glass and garnished the concoction with orange slices and maraschino cherries.
Reportedly the original recipe used either passion fruit syrup or fassionola. What is fassionola? Well, this is where Donn Beach comes back into the picture. Fassionola is a perfect example of the mystery and allure of tiki ingredients.
The tropical syrup is an ingredient that came under the Beachcomber’s umbrella and was lost to history for some time until bar aficionados tried to resurrect it using descriptions that basically boiled down to “tropical in flavor and red in color.”
You can find all manner of fassionola recipes online that involve macerating a variety of berries and fruits and then running them through blenders and sous vide machines but you can also just buy it pre-made.
We found a recipe that skips the obscure ingredients all together.
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.