By Iden Eliopoulos, Mocktail expert, Creator and Managing Editor of Cocktail.com
What’s a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail without the green dye? That’s the Eye of the Hurricane––an Irish-themed cocktail from South Africa. That’s not a place Americans would associate with Irish traditions like St. Patrick’s Day. But this little-known drink is gaining in fame.
Eye of the Hurricane is a bitter lemon and passion fruit flavor combo. That’s flagrant for St. Patrick’s Day standards but arguably needed with the limited flavor options of the holiday’s classic beverages. And with Eye of the Hurricane’s aforementioned growth, it may be the popularizer of a passion fruit trend set to define the future of this Irish holiday.
You Wouldn’t Expect to Find St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails in South Africa, but You Can… and They’re Growing in Popularity
The first bar I went to in South Africa was advertising this naturally green beverage as a St. Patrick’s Day special. “A refreshing contrast to an Irish Coffee or Guinness this Irish Holiday,” the sign read. From the context of the sign, I thought it was a house specialty. But no.
All across the cities of South Africa, Eye of the Hurricane and other fruity, naturally green cocktails had been popping up. St. Patrick’s Day is a popular tourist holiday here, and that had apparently become their preferred taste coming second only to the ultimate Irish classics––that being the Irish Grasshopper and Irish Coffee.
I wasn’t sure why this had become so trendy. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t associated with tropical fruits and refreshing drinks. But keep in mind South Africa’s location. It’s below the equator, meaning it’s summer right now. It’s weird how I didn’t even realize that myself when I went to South Africa from the United States. I just assumed it was one hot summer like the middle east.
Putting external factors aside, taste plays a big part in popularizing a mixed beverage. And this drink has flavor.
Eye of the Hurricane Show How Bitter Lemon Can Bring Great Flavor to Any Cocktail
Bitter lemon is one of the best apértif drinks to top off any St. Patrick’s Day cocktail. It has the ideal edge to mix into other ingredients. Alone, the bitterness is comparable to an Aperol Spritz. But once it’s diluted with some ice and flavorings, it mellows out to become the optimum balance between sweet and bitter.
My tip is to use it in any fruit-inspired drink or collins build in place of regular club soda. Bitter lemon is refreshing on its own, and if you fancy a slight bitter edge to your mixed beverages, it’ll bring that to the table.
As for the South African bartenders, they have a different way of using this key ingredient. They can’t seem to get enough of this and often drink it on its own with only a tiny bit of ice dilution. Whenever lemon appears like it’d go well in a drink, they replace the club soda with bitter lemon. And even if it doesn’t, they use another, more neutrally flavored apéritif called Bitterlekker.
It’s common for most name drinks to have a little extra bitterness here. But even with the excess bitterness, most drinks have a sticky sweet syrup to counterbalance it. And that gave rise to the use of the passion fruit syrup in a lot of drinks––one of the sweetest, strongest fruit syrups you can use.
Eye of the Hurricane Is a Trendsetting Cocktail for Passion Fruit Flavors on St. Patricks Day Cocktails
Passion fruit isn’t currently in the St. Patrick’s Day flavor wheel. The standard drink for this holiday tends to be creamy, chocolaty or coffee-inspired. But that’s where Eye of the Hurricane is a trendsetter.
Because Eye of the Hurricane is popular with tourists, its influence is soon to spread far and wide. For Cape Town, the South African city I had this drink in, those tourists mostly come from the US, UK and Germany. So keep a lookout for it if you’re based in those locations.
This is a good change for St. Patrick’s Day cocktails. Passion fruit is a fantastic mix-in for any fruity, refreshing cocktail. Especially with bitter lemon in Eye of the Hurricane. So good, in fact, that I can’t help but think you’ll even see bitter lemon/passion fruit combinations in future popular Irish beverages too.
But past predictions, you can be sure Eye of the Hurricane is a bitter lemon/passion fruit cocktail that’s already on the rise for St. Patricks Day in South Africa. Take notes on this trend and give the drink a try in South Africa next time you visit.
Just making a regular Eye of the Hurricane isn’t all to do. Try using the tips I gave on using bitter lemon and passion fruit for any drink. Leave a comment if you did, and let us know how it went!
Eye of the Hurricane Recipe
- 2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
- 1 oz White Rum
- 1 oz Lime Juice
- Bitter Lemon
- Crushed Ice
- Lime Peel (Garnish)
- Passion Fruit Seeds (Garnish)
- Pour passion fruit syrup, lime juice and rum into a hurricane glass with crushed ice
- Top up with bitter lemon and stir
- Garnish with lime peel and passion fruit seeds