By Lars Theriot
It turns out there is an undercurrent of rum flowing, river-like, through my life. My family is from South Louisiana… land of Pirates, sugarcane, and rum. My father’s father made chemicals to fertilize, and exterminate the bugs that eat, sugarcane. About 20 years ago, we got a call from a University Professor in Puerto Rico who told us that some of my Mother’s ancestors settled in San Juan where they got involved in… you guessed it… the rum business. My father has spent most of his professional life working in the Caribbean. He’s drunk Cuba Libres in the presence of Fidel, and he once brought me a bottle of 15-year-old Barbancourt Rhum from Haiti when I was in college… I still have it. It’s my special sipping rum. I still remember my dad telling me if he ever caught me mixing it with Coke that he would take it back… and then he would kill me… and sure enough, the amber liquid in that bottle has never even been in the same room with a Coke.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that I’ve been waiting excitedly for Dave to post Pusser’s Rum. Rum is so much a part of so many things that fascinate me… from Pirates to the British Navy to New Orleans itself. I think it’s safe to say that without Rum, there would be no New Orleans. Other than oil, which is a relatively new export for the state, sugarcane has been an Louisiana export staple for many hundreds of years. And for all that time, rum has been there.
I think if you asked an average American to name the most famous drink invented in New Orleans 9 out of 10 would say The Hurricane. And The Hurricane is yet another reason I’ve been excited about Pusser’s Rum, because it means that now Dave can tell us how to make one.
Invented at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans in the 1940’s, even the invention of this drink is another brick in the wall of rum’s amazing popularity. The legend goes that Pat O’Brien himself was looking for a way to get rid of a consignment of rum because he wanted to buy bottles of more popular spirits like scotch and whiskey (in those days, liquor salesmen forced bar owners to buy rum, which was cheap and plentiful, before they would sell them Whiskey, which was harder to come by). So he mixed his rum with lime juice and passion fruit syrup and started giving the drinks away to sailors.
Well the joke was on him, because you can’t keep a good booze down. The drink caught on, having been named after the glass it’s served in, which is shaped like a Hurricane lamp, and has now taken its rightful place on New Orleans list of must-have foods and drinks.
Pat O’Briens’ bar, too, is a must visit for any French Quarter tour. It’s really three bars in one, the classic piano bar where reservations are a must and the photographer takes frame-worthy photographs, the sports bar where you can order draft Abita and watch whatever game is on that night, and the courtyard, which features a fountain that appears to be on fire. If you give in and go for that second Hurricane, be careful, you might start to feel like you’re hanging out in a pirate cove. Just don’t draw a sword… they still frown on that kind of thing, even in a laissez-faire city like New Orleans.
Esoterica: An official Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane glass holds exactly 10 dollars in pennies.