Each week the iFanStaff passes along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail (or beer, or wine, or booze) and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.
New Orleans is easily one of my favorite cities in the world. Part of my adoration stems from their deep history with alcohol, including the creation of some of my favorite cocktails like the sazerac and vieux carré. The Hurricane is not one of my favorite cocktails by a long shot but it is yet another staple of the Crescent City. The drink was supposedly created by Pat O’Brien in the 1940s. I say supposedly because cocktail history is even less reliable than comic history, a lot of foggy memories by people who weren’t all that reliable in the first place. According to the tale he needed to get rid of some crummy rum, so in what would later become a mainstay of tiki mixology, he threw together some rum and fruit juice and called it a day. The drink was a hit, and has become part of the cocktail landscape. You can actually still go to Pat O’Brien’s bar, called Pat O’Brien’s. It may sound like a cozy Irish pub, but it’s actually a sprawling multi-room bar with a gorgeous interior courtyard common to many buildings in the French Quarter. It is there, and only there, that I ever partake in the Hurricane.
But this series is about you, and odds are you won’t be going to the French Quarter to sit down and read a book, so you need to know how to make one of these on your own. Well Pat O’Brien’s have made it easy because you can buy premade Hurricane mix, just add ice and booze! It may not surprise you to learn that I do not endorse this method. If you can to use actual ingredients here’s the rundown:
- Shot of light rum
- Shot of dark rum
- Shot of passion fruit juice
- ½ shot of orange juice
- ½ a lime’s juice
- 1 tablespoon simple syrup
- 1 tablespoon grenadine
- Slice of orange and a cherry for garnish
Shake everything but the garnish and strain into an ice-filled hurricane-lamp glass (hence the name of the drink), add the garnish, and serve. All that remains is the diabetic coma your loved ones will find you in after consuming. It’s a very sweet drink.
How appropriate then, that my book pairing is about sugary treats in the Big Easy. Sweets is a crime graphic novel set in New Orleans in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. Anyone who watches crime shows knows that you don’t have much time after a crime to find out who did the deed before the case becomes cold and haunts a detective for the rest of their career. Imagine if that deadline was enforced by a category 5 storm bearing down on you, your perp, and all the soon to be washed away evidence. Our hero detective is dealing with his own demons, but is determined to crack the case of the killer and the praline crumbs (another New Orleans delicacy that contains a whole lot of sugar).
The usual dread associated with a story like this is only heightened by the foreboding brought upon by the upcoming storm, a storm you as the reader are aware of but the characters in the book assume will be just another hurricane. I won’t go much more into plot to avoid spoilers, but I will say the ending doesn’t quite match the initial promise of the book. In that way, I think it makes pairing with a Hurricane cocktail all the more appropriate.
What I can’t emphasize enough about this book is the art. Kody Chamberlain is from Louisana and he expertise and passion shine through. New Orleans is a very weird city, a hodgepodge of culture, style, age, and humidity. The sidewalks literally bulge and buckle from the water in the ground pushing against them, because most of the city is below sea level. The city is teaming with colorful characters, and the book is set before the events that drove a portion of that population away. Suffice it to say Chamberlain nails it. Even the little details like showing up at a suspect’s house to see that it’s a shotgun-style home. Those are the details that keep me engaged in an authentic-feeling story.
I actually sent my copy of the book to a good friend who lives in the Treme, and he agrees that the art was “just so cool,” to quote the man directly. I figure if you get a local jazzed on the look, you’ve succeeded.
So why don’t you mix yourself a festive-looking drink and sit down with a less-than-festive book. Imagine you’re sweating through your shirt on a steamy summer night by the bayou instead of freezing your butt off on the top of a mountain. As the holidays approach, you may need a mini vacation from your vacation, and I submit that a Hurricane and Sweets may just be the best way to escape without having to go anywhere.
Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy the comics that make you happy. Smile more.