As the bands of Hurricane Laura pass over us bringing winds and warm downpours, I think back to all of the storms we have ridden out over the years. Growing up in Florida you kind of get used to them. I remember the evolution from being terrified and covering windows at the first sign of a storm to blithely laughing off anything under a Category 3. It’s amazing what you can become accustomed to. Let’s have a drink and think about that. Please, join me now, as we stand and make The Hurricane.
This is a New Orleans classic. They sell them all over, but Pat O’Brien’s made them famous. I’ve spent many a warm afternoon snacking on too salty popcorn, knocking back Hurricanes till they set the fountain on fire. I don’t opt for the additional shot of 151, but I’ve seen it done. I’ve also spent plenty of time avoiding the telltale pools of popcorn laced pink vomit on Bourbon Street. It’s easy to overdo it. They are deceptively strong, easy drinking and that salty popcorn is just dirty pool.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of dark rum, I went with Doctor Bird; 3 ounces of light rum, Cruzan this time. Add 1 ounce of passion fruit syrup, 1 ounce of orange juice and 1/4 ounce each of simple syrup, grenadine and fresh squeezed lime juice. Toss in 2-3 drops of Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters, some ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Louisiana 1927” by Aaron Neville. It’s got a bit of a waltz feel to it, so this is gonna take a little work, but it’s gonna be worth it. Strain over pebble ice into the glass that gave the drink its name. The distinctive shape echoes hurricane style oil lamps made to stand up to the wind. Garnish with some orange, one of those awesome luxardo cherries, maybe a lime wedge too, have fun. Pop in a paper straw and serve on a bed of beads, in the traditional style. It’s up to you to decide how far you’ll go to acquire them.
I don’t have to tell you how good this one is, there is a reason this is a classic. Like sweet refreshing alcoholic Kool-Aid. Pair it with popcorn for an authentic experience, but not too much. Moderation is your friend in this, as in all things.
Lin-Manuel says that “In the eye of a hurricane, there is quiet…for a little while.” He’s absolutely right. I remember going outside during Hurricane Andrew while the eye passed over us. Marveling at how little damage our neighborhood had suffered. As the winds rose, we rushed back in and over the next several hours South Florida would be forever changed. But that time in the eye, is quiet, eerily quiet. Peaceful, yes, but full of tension. Electricity in the air.
A lot of life feels like that right now. We are battered from one side and another. Wildfires, storms, political rhetoric, blatant brutality, peaceful protests turned ugly as agitators systematically work to make sure the message is lost in the literal crossfire. All in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen over 180,000 of our fellow countrymen die. Any little respite from the horrors around us feels like the eye of the storm. A foreboding quiet, tension growing instead of receding. And the worst part is, we are getting used to it. We have begun to accept lies from our leaders, brutality from those meant to protect us, division as something normal. None of this is normal. Things are not supposed to be this way. Many politicians are honest, most cops are decent, and the great majority of people of all races want us all to get along. So why do we put up with this new “ definitely not” normal? Why do we let those in power preach division and hate for their fellow Americans? I don’t know. I wish I had the answers. I do know that we have to rise above this. We have to remember that there is no them, only us. That we are all in this storm and the only way to get through is to stick together. We must find a way to look beyond the parties and see the people, or we will be lost in this storm. I hope we can be better than that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.