Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Hurricane Cocktail

Hurricane Cocktail in Hurricane Glass with Orange and Cherry Garnish

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Classic New Orleans Cocktail  

When people think of New Orleans cocktails, two drinks usually spring to mind: the Sazerac and the Hurricane. The Sazerac is the city’s official cocktail, but the Hurricane is probably more popular today in the Big Easy. In large part, that’s because it’s the signature cocktail of Pat O’Brien’s Bar, a well-known tourist hangout in the French Quarter.

Pat O’Brien may not have created the Hurricane (which probably originated at the Hurricane Bar in New York City in 1939). But O’Brien certainly put the drink on the map.

Funny thing, though: the drink that’s typically made today at O’Brien’s (and most places) isn’t the original recipe. Most bars serve a Hurricane that is a bright, fluorescent red — while the original had a more subdued, orangish hue. Sadly, today’s version isn’t as tasty as the original, either.

But no worries! The recipe for the original drink is still available. I’ll include both versions here, and let you to decide which one you prefer.



Two Hurrican Cocktails in Hurricane Glasses with Orange and Cherry Garnish

Recipe: The Hurricane Cocktail

The original Hurricane was made with dark rum, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice (though lime juice almost immediately became a popular substitution). The syrup contained a mixture of passion fruit juice and Simple Syrup. At some point, someone probably substituted Grenadine for simple syrup, and the red color of the grenadine tinted the entire cocktail, giving it the bright hue that people often associate with the Hurricane today.

Passion fruit juice can be expensive (and sometimes is hard to obtain), so over time many bartenders dropped it from the list of ingredients and substituted tropical punch. Indeed, the Hurricanes served at O’Brien’s today are of the punch variety, and are made from a mix. The flavor of that mix resembles a product sold at every grocery store in the US: Hawaiian Punch. (So if you want to duplicate the Hurricane that is typically sold in New Orleans today, just use Hawaiian Punch — really.)

We’re going to make the original version of the Hurricane, as described in Beach Bum Berry Remixed. But in the Notes I’ll include a recipe for a Hawaiian Punch version, and also a version by Chuck Taggart at the Gumbo Pages (do click through and read the post — he offers loads of history and detail about the Hurricane that I haven’t included). If you’re wondering why some of the Hurricane Cocktails in the pictures are red, while others are orange, it’s because they’re made from different recipes — I wanted to show both “looks.”

The Hurricane has a reputation for packing a wallop, and you’ll see why when you read the recipe: There’s a lot of booze in this drink! This recipe (for the original Hurricane) takes about 5 minutes to make and is intended to serve one person. I suggest you serve two people — or cut the ingredient quantities in half for a much saner drink.

Traditionally, this drink is served in a tall glass shaped like the globe on a hurricane lamp, although you can substitute any tall glass. Be aware that if you divide the recipe into two portions, the volume of the drink might not be able to fill a tall glass more than ¾ of the way, so you might want to consider serving it in a rocks glass.

Ingredients
  • 4 ounces dark rum (any good-quality dark rum works; I like Gosling’s Black Seal or Meyer’s)
  • 2 ounces passion fruit syrup (see Notes for where to buy)
  • 2 ounces fresh lemon juice (you may prefer lime juice; see Notes)
  • orange slice and/or cherry for garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Put all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker that is half filled with ice.
  2. Shake, and strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes or crushed ice.
  3. Add a tall straw and optional garnish, and serve.
Hurricane Cocktail in Hurricane Glass with Orange and Cherry Garnish

Notes
  • Passion fruit tastes wonderful, but finding affordable passion fruit syrup isn’t easy.  However, Chuck Taggart recommends a great source in Hawaii: Aunty Lilikoi. The quality of their passion fruit syrup is extremely high, prices are reasonable, and they ship promptly. BTW, I have no connection with Aunty Lilikoi — I’m just an exceptionally pleased customer. 
  • You may also be able to find the Monin or Torani brands of passion fruit syrup. I haven’t tried them, but from what I’ve read, they’re only so-so. Trader Vic used to market a very good passion fruit syrup, but the formula has been changed (loads of artificial ingredients are now included), so it’s not something I would recommend. 
  • The original Hawaiian Punch actually included passion fruit as one of its ingredients (along with apple, apricot, guava, orange, papaya, and pineapple) and was a yellowish-orange color rather than the bright red it is now. 
  • Lemon juice was the original citrus of choice for the Hurricane, although many people opt for lime. I prefer lemon in this drink, but try it both ways and decide which speaks to you. BTW, you always want to use freshly squeezed citrus in cocktails — they really do taste noticeably better when made that way. 
  • As mentioned above, Chuck Taggart has a pretty good contemporary recipe for the Hurricane: 1½ ounces each of light and dark rum; 1 ounce each of fresh OJ and lime juice (you can substitute lemon juice); 2 ounces passion fruit syrup; and a teaspoon of grenadine (you want the real stuff, made from pomegranate; for details on how to make grenadine at home, see my post on Homemade Grenadine). Taggart’s drink doesn’t taste exactly like the original Hurricane, but it’s a very pleasant cocktail. 
  • If you don’t want to hunt for passion fruit syrup, you can skip it entirely and make a punch-type Hurricane that’s similar to the one served at Pat O’Brien’s. You’ll need 4 ounces of dark rum, 2 ounces (or a bit more, to taste) of Hawaiian Punch, and an ounce of lemon juice. (The original drink is so much better, though, that I suggest finding a source of passion fruit syrup if you want to make a Hurricane.)
Hurricane Cocktail in Hurricane Glass with Orange and Cherry Garnish

The Original is Still the Best

“I think I like the lemon version better than the lime,” Mrs. Kitchen Riffs declared after sampling her second Hurricane.  “Both are pretty good, though.”

To taste-test various versions of the drink, we were taking our own advice, as suggested in Cocktail Basics: We made one each of the lemon- and lime-juice Hurricanes, then split it. And we cut the recipe in half — using only 2 ounces of rum in each drink. We didn’t want to lose our few remaining wits.

“I think you’re right,” I said, taking another sip. “I was expecting to prefer the lime one — because I usually prefer lime anything.  And the lime version does have a great first taste.  But the lemon version sips better.”

“Say,” asked Mrs K R, “is it true that the Hurricane actually was invented in New York?”

“It’s impossible to know for sure,” I replied, “there are always so many stories about how this or that drink originated.  Some people who’ve looked into it say the Hurricane was born in New York, but there’s also a legend that attributes it to Pat O’Brien.  According to this story, O’Brien was trying to buy some whiskey from his liquor wholesaler, at a time when whiskey was in short supply.  There was plenty of rum, though — the Caribbean was swimming in the stuff.  So the wholesaler supposedly forced O’Brien to buy rum (lots and lots of rum) in order to get some whiskey.  O’Brien was looking for a way to use all the rum, and came up with the idea for the Hurricane.”  I finished off the last of my drink.  

“So whether O’Brien invented the Hurricane, or just knew about the drink that had already been invented in New York, is a mystery.” I said.  “And I’m not sure when he dropped the passion fruit syrup from his formula, or when the drink turned the vivid shade of red that it is today.  Which reminds me, I guess we should make the Hawaiian Punch version, for a taste comparison.”

“Do we have to?” asked Mrs K R.  I think I saw a fleeting look of panic cross her face.

I mixed the Hawaiian Punch version and we sipped in silence.  I saw Mrs K R look longingly at the bottle of passion fruit syrup.

I cleared my throat.  “I used to like Hawaiian Punch when I was a kid.  Guess I’m not a kid any longer.”

“Me neither,” said Mrs K R.  “Why don’t we dump these and make another one using the original formula.  It might wash the taste out of our mouths.”

Mrs K R is a problem solver.  I like that!


You may also enjoy reading about:
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
Cocktail Basics
Piña Colada
Singapore Sling Cocktail
The Zombie
Mai Tai
Planter's Punch
Margarita
Mojito Cocktail
Gimlet Cocktail
Gin and Tonic
Classic Daiquiri
Pimm's Cup
Tequila Sunrise
Fog Cutter Cocktail
Homemade Grenadine
Simple Syrup

64 comments:

  1. 4 ounces of rum in one drink. Yes, I would agree to halve it if I wanted to stay sane. Love the idea of the passion fruit syrup. I, too loved Hawaiian Punch... as a kid. And promptly grew out of it. It is so very pretty and a drink I've never had (in spite of bartending in NYC... years ago). Certainly a lovely way to do Mardi Gras before the 40 day fast.

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    1. Hi Claudia, it's too bad about losing one's taste for Hawaiian Punch - I remember it as being really delish, but now it's just too sweet for me. And I agree that 4 ounces is way, way too much! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I liked both the colors of the Hurricane cocktail. I guess finding quality passion fruit juice will be hard.

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    1. Hi Shibi, you can sometime find passion fruit puree in Mexican grocery stores (it's often frozen), so you could make your own syrup, I guess. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I love these exotic looking drinks you are posting and this is one of them. Hmmm, I don't know John -- something about RUM that is just sexy. Okay, I think I am being subliminally amazed by the shape of the glass and the beautiful color of the drink. LOL! This is a good post my friend. :)

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    1. Hi Ray, isn't this a nice looking drink? And mighty tasty, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. My mother in law grew up outside N'awlins. One year she brought us several black and white envelopes from Pat O'Briens that were supposed to be hurricane mix. I am so much happier to see your recipe. Using envelopes to make a drink was a little scary to me. (But I did like Kool-Aid). Now I can throw those packets away!

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    1. Hi Abbe, from what I've read every Hurricane served at O'Brien's these days is made from that powdered mix. So you'd be getting the "real" O'Brien's experience (whether you wanted it or not!). Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Sketched Chef, both versions certainly do look pretty nice, don't they? Thanks for the comment.

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  6. That is such a simple drink to put together and what a great combination - rum and passion fruit juice. Quite genius. I think I prefer the orange one for the colour as much as for the ingredients.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, isn't this easy? And pretty tasty. Although I like red, I prefer the orange one too - it color is much more subtle. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I've only had a taste of a Hurricane and it must have been the fruit punch variety served by a mixologist who didn't have a clue. Yes, it was strong but cloyingly sweet and not something I wanted more of. I'll be on the look-out for passion fruit syrup and, if I find one of your recommended brands, I'll be sipping a Hurricane that night. No matter what, though, I won't be buying Hawaiian Punch. :)
    Thanks, John, for the recipe and history lesson. I really do like these posts and you do them quite well.

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    1. Hi John, an awful lot of versions of this are really, really sweet. My version is more than sweet enough. Glad you enjoy these, and thanks for the comment.

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  8. I love your drink recipes and pass them along to my coworker who loves to mix things up. This looks fantastic and so refreshing!

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    1. Hi Kristi, there are so many wonderful drinks out there. They're not all good, of course, but there are more than enough to occupy one's time for quite awhile. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. I can see why this drink has the reputation for packing a wallop; 4 ounce of rum sounds like a lot. I do love a good rum drink though, I am in on this one.

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    1. Hi Dawn, 4 ounces of rum is OK if you really spread it out. In one drink? That's silly. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. You photograph your creations so well. I love the look of this cocktail. It's such a beautiful colour and just screams, 'holidays' xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, this is a great holiday cocktail, and perfect for the hot weather you're enjoying right now. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  11. I've never had one of these before but it sounds quite fantastic! I love rum-based drinks!

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    1. Hi Natalie, if you like rum, you'll like this drink. But do try to find a passion fruit version. Thanks for the comment.

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  12. This drink has a well-deserved reputation! I had a couple of these when I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest and they totally knocked me out!

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    1. Hi Alyssa, a couple of these at one sitting - if each is made with 4 ounces of booze - would knock almost anyone out! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Now, this is the kind of drink to have when you're on vacation. Or heck, I'd be inclined to just make it at home, too, and pretend that I'm on vacation when I can't get away. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, this drink really is a vacation in a glass. ;-) OK, kinda of! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I always learn something new here, especially with your cocktail posts. I knew there were two different hurricane recipes, but I didn't know the difference. I've bought the red ones in NO, but always thought them too sweet. Maybe the original ones aren't so sweet. Also, I didn't know that Hawaiian Punch use to have passion fruit and was yellow. I've only seen the red one. I'm definitely going to have to try to original Hurricane recipe! I love rum, so I'm already there. Your pictures are gorgeous and making me very thirsty! Enjoyed this post!

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    1. Hi MJ, the original is still a bit on the sweet side (many rum drinks are) but way, way less sweet than the red "punch" kind. It's quite decent, really, and the flavor of the passion fruit is so nice - worth trying, IMO. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  15. Oh! I remember sipping on this drink when in New Orleans...and I never knew that was passion fruit syrup in it...back in Brazil passion fruit is so common, we grew up having fresh passion fruit juice almost everyday :)
    Thanks for the recipe and I sure will try this out.
    Hope you are enjoying your week John!

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    1. Hi Juliana, alas, passion fruit isn't that common in the US (at least not in my area), although I do often see the juice or nectar in the freezer section of Mexican groceries. Hope you enjoy this! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Oh my, the memories I have of these of my one night in New Orleans! Wow, they sure do pack a punch! I quite liked the flavour of them, though! Halving the rum would be a good idea :) Great photos, they're just beautiful.

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    1. Hi Ali, when made the the full amount of rum these certainly do give one a wallop, don't they? Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  17. I know what I'll be making a pitcher of for my next get together! :) Thanks for the resources on passion fruit syrup -> I've tried the Monin before and wasn't a big fan.

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    1. Hi Food Jaunts, I've heard the Monin wasn't all that great, although I've never tried it myself (mainly because I've herd so many negative things). The Aunty Lilikoi stuff is pretty good IMO. Thanks for the comment.

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  18. That florescent red of the new version certainly isn't very appealing to me! No thank you to the Hawaiian Punch and yes, thank you to the passion fruit syrup! Now let's just get some tropical temps here in Indiana!!!

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    1. Hi Lizzy, I can't complain too much about the harshness of the winter (because it hasn't been) but it's been chilly lately, hasn't it? I totally agree on the Hawaiian Punch. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. When I was 18 or 19, I traveled to New Orleans with my family. My dad and I visited Pat O'Briens, and I was so proud to be old enough to visit a bar. (My younger sister and my mom had to do something else.) I can't even remember what I had to drink there, if anything, but I do remember the Pat O'Briens drinking glass I brought home. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. Hi Beth, O'Brien's is a fun place - I've been there in the past. Though if I go again I think I'd skip their current version of the Hurricane! Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Love the name of the cocktail - so dramatic! So is the photo. I really like how the black background brings forth all the colors in your drink.

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    1. Hi Julia, black really is such a nice background for a lot of cocktails (food, too). As you say, it helps showcase the color so nicely. Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Every single one of your drink picture is so pretty! I happen to have some cheap bacardi rum sitting around. Not sure if it's good enough to make the cut but I'll try it anyway. Now I need to fetch some passion fruit syrup in my local stores. I would like to make this drink in my next party! Thanks a lot for sharing!

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    1. Hi Yi, you're so lucky in that you have a convenient local source for finding passion fruit syrup! Something I wish I had. If the Bacardi is dark (or amber) I'm sure it's certainly worth trying. Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  22. Wow, you sure know how to make a drink! This looks too good

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    1. Hi Cathleen, thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  23. A gorgeous cocktail! It looks amazing and sounds so wonderful.

    I'd love to visit NOLA and enjoy one of tose while listening to the music played in the bar...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, NOLA is a truly fun place to visit. Great restaurants, and music everywhere. Thanks for your comment.

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  24. John,this is an exquisite drink! Your pictures are stunning! I love the ice cubes fizzle!!

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    1. Hi Judy, it really is a good drink! Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  25. MMM passion fruit and lemon with rum sounds like an EXCELLENT combination! I would love to try one of these. I have never been to New Orleans, but on my "to-visit" list!

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    1. Hi Kristi, New Orleans is definitely a fun place to visit. But drink this cocktail at home - you'll do better there then you will in New Orleans! Thanks for your comment.

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  26. You both make me giggle!!! I have to say, the passion fruit version has my attention for sure:-) I recently was introduced to passion fruit, and love the flavor. The drink must be amazing, the original version of course! :-) Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, the passion fruit version is really good! Passion fruit has such an amazing flavor. Glad to make you giggle. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  27. We are not big cocktail drinkers here, but your creation is so inviting I can't help wanting some! I guess I need to take one of your classes then. :) First thing first: start a bar collection (it will take some time though).

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    1. Hi Marina, I hope I'm not leading you into the dark side! ;-) Cocktails are fun, once you learn what you're doing (and learning isn't hard at all). And there are some mighty tasty concoctions out there. Thanks for your comment.

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  28. Wow ... who knew making a Hurricane could be this easy! I will definitely be making one soon! Thanks!

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    1. Hi Kimberly, it's really an easy drink to make! Once you get the passion fruit syrup, that is. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. I remember making this cocktail while working in the Caribbean. We called the Caribbean Rum Punch, which is similar to the Hawaiian punch. I was fortunate enough to have received an original recipe by a local who used to work for the rum distillery. To this day I have been using this recipe. So when ever I see a Hurricane cocktail, it reminds me of my days in the Caribbean. I love the info you have put into this article. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

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    1. Hi Frank, it's so interesting how cocktails change their names in different locales! It's a great drink, isn't it? And totally appropriate for the Caribbean - in fact it'd be a perfect beach sipper. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. Wow, John you nailed it - the pictures look sooo perfect! I love the color of Hurricane Cocktail in the black background. The photos successfully made me thirsty too!

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    1. Hi Nami, always happy to make you thirsty! This really is a fun cocktail, and passion fruit has such an interesting flavor - it combines so well with dark rum. Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Mmm I almost feel like I'm in New Orleans now... Heading there in May for one of my best friend's weddings and can't wait to sample some hurricane cocktails :-)

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    1. Hi Katherine, finding a Hurricane to drink in New Orleans definitely is not a problem! Or anything else, for that matter. ;-) What a great eating city - I'm sure you'll have a gret time at the wedding. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Oh wow, this is cruel to make me look at this so early in the morning. I want to drink this.... right this second! Bookmarked.

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    1. Hi Tia, this is a great cocktail! And one I think you'd like. Sorry to be so cruel so early. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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