This might surprise you, but you’ve likely never had a real Hurricane cocktail—even if you’ve had one at the famous home of the Hurricane, Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Proprietor Pat O’Brien invented the libation in the 1940s out of necessity. World War II created a whiskey shortage, as distilleries were repurposed into armories and grain was far too precious as a food source for soldiers to make a spirit. But rum was still cheap and plentiful, coming into New Orleans by the barrel-full from the Caribbean and Central America.
O’Brien devised a cocktail recipe, served in a large, lantern-shaped glass, with rum, lime juice, sugar, and a common ingredient in those days called Fassionola—a house-made syrup of fruits and sugars.
Over the years, though, tastes changed. O’Brien’s eventually switched to a bottled version, but the maker went out of business. Fassionola fell by the wayside, along with other vintage cocktail syrups of the day like orgeats. And the Hurricane struggled on as a kitschy Kool-Aid-red mix of artificially colored juice and sweeteners. Until now.
Last year, New Orleans bartenders/consultants Max Messier and his wife Lauren Myerscough founded Cocktail & Sons—a company aimed at reviving classic cocktail syrups. And after scouring old cookbooks and historic recipes, they decided to bring the iconic Hurricane’s secret ingredient back to the Crescent City. They began experimenting with Fassionola a year ago, devising an all-natural version using fresh, sweet Louisiana strawberries, steeped hibiscus, fresh mango, and pineapple. To keep the mix as local as possible, they also sourced both raw and white sugars from Three Brothers Farm in Youngsville, Louisiana for the syrup.
The result, Cocktail & Sons Fassionola, is now available at stores around New Orleans, as well as select purveyors in Louisiana, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas. It’s also behind the bar at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Belle Shoals in Brooklyn and the Tonga Room in San Francisco, where bartenders are all making true Hurricanes once more.
For a limited time, it‘s available to be purchased online. (Thanks to the fact that Fassionola doesn’t contain alcohol, it can be shipped anywhere.) But when this first batch is gone, it’s gone until next year. “We are truly limited in production by what the produce schedule will be,” Messier explains. Louisiana strawberries need to be plucked and processed at their sweetest in early spring. Pineapples and mangos are a bounty best before May.
Messier, naturally, recommends sampling Fassionola in a reclaimed Hurricane, but also loves this syrup for Tiki drinks, a classic Jack Rose, or, he says, “anything where you’d use grenadine.”