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The Hand Grenade Cocktail Is A True New Orleans Classic

Bourbon Street in New Orleans
Bourbon Street in New Orleans - f11photo/Shutterstock

If you find yourself among the glittering lights of Bourbon Street, one of the most common sights you'll see tucked in the hands of red-faced revealers is a long, narrow, bright green cup. This vessel (the shape of which is known as a yard cup) is the signature container for one of the city's most popular cocktails. If you find yourself in New Orleans, you might want to try one, as you can't get it anywhere else.

This drink is known as the hand grenade cocktail, and while we don't know much about its contents, we do know that it's one of the strongest drinks out there. Tropical Isle, the bar that invented it, claims that drinking three hand grenades "will result in complete loss of your inhibitions."

The recipe for this slime-colored beverage is kept under tight lock and key by its creators. However, we know that it boasts a strong sweet, melon flavor, and is said to be similar to a hurricane, another popular New Orleans cocktail. Tropical Isle claims the recipe is full of various liqueurs, and, although it's chock-full of alcohol, it doesn't have a strong taste to match. Instead, it tastes intensely sweet, so imbibers beware. Copycat recipes of this drink call for ingredients like gin, white rum, vodka, green melon liqueur, and pineapple juice, so that could give a clue to what's inside. But if you want a truly authentic version of the hand grenade, you'll have to book a trip to New Orleans.

Read more: The Ultimate Vodka Brands, Ranked

How The Hand Grenade Cocktail Came To Be

Tropical Isle bar sign
Tropical Isle bar sign - Wirestock/Getty Images

This notorious drink was created by New Orleans bar owner Earl Bernhardt and his partner. The original hand grenade debuted at the New Orleans World's Fair in 1984, before Tropical Isle had established its first location. It took Bernhardt three weeks to create, but he eventually found a 13-ingredient recipe he liked. After its debut, the drink garnered so much praise that Bernhardt was able to upgrade his concession booth to a physical bar, and the hand grenade was adopted as the bar's signature drink.

While you can technically order something like a hand grenade cocktail at any bar, legally, you can only grab the original from Tropical Isle. The bartenders even have to sign non-disclosure agreements promising not to reveal what's in the drink. Aside from all six Tropical Isle locations that exist at the time of writing, you can also find this drink at one of the bar's sister locations, known as the Funky Pirate.

As a bonus, you can enjoy this drink either on the rocks, in a martini, frozen, or with low sugar -- so there's an option for everyone. And looking at the numbers, it almost feels like all that have trekked to New Orleans have tried it.

The Hand Grenade Cocktail By The Numbers

three hand grenade frozen cocktails
three hand grenade frozen cocktails - Leroy Lozano / Facebook

We've touched on the popularity of this New Orleans classic, but let's dig a little deeper into just how much people love it. Owner Earl Bernhardt once shared with Vinepair, prior to his passing, that he sold around 1 million of these drinks annually. Because of the high demand and the lengthy recipe, Tropical Isle employees make the cocktail in large batches. This way, bartenders only have to pump the pure hand grenade concentrate from 55-gallon tanks into the signature grenade cups to serve them.

New Orleans has made a name for itself, for better or for worse, as one of the best drinking cities in the world. So, if you find yourself in the Crescent City, don't skip out on the city's most classic cocktail -- aside from the hurricane and the Sazerac -- and order yourself one hand grenade. But for your own good, we don't recommend having many more than that. Tropical Isle encourages you to cap it at four, lest you want to drag yourself back to your hotel at the end of the night.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.