This week we mark the 85th anniversary of a New Orleans nightspot famous for its Hurricanes and much more: Pat O'Brien's.
The store's flagship location on Canal Street opened in 1849
During Prohibition, Benson Harrison "Pat" O'Brien ran a speakeasy at 638 St. Peter St. called Mr. O'Brien's Club Tipperary. Once alcohol sales were no longer illegal, O'Brien opened a new bar with a new name, Pat O'Brien's, on Dec. 3, 1933. In 1942, he and business partner Charlie Cantrell moved the bar to its present location at 718 St. Peter St., a 1791 building that originally was a theater.
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The Hurricane was invented at the bar in the 1940s, when in order to purchase one case of bourbon or Scotch, bar owners had to purchase as many as 50 cases of rum. Pat O's created the fruity red rum drink, served in a glass that resembles a hurricane lantern and topped with an orange slice and cherry. More than 500,000 Hurricanes are sold at Pat O's each year, and a packaged mix makes the drink available worldwide.
Pat O'Brien's remains a favorite nightspot in the Quarter, with its courtyard, flaming fountain and copper-topped "dueling" pianos. George Oechsner Jr., who had been associated with the bar since 1940, purchased Pat O's in 1978 with his son Sonny. Sonny's daughter Shelley is now president of the company. There are now also Pat O's in Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, a Pat O's Courtyard Restaurant on Bourbon Street and a Decatur Street event space called Pat O's on the River.