The History and Legacy of Pat O’Brien’s Universal in New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for many things—its vibrant music scene, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine. Another iconic feature of the city’s landscape is the historic bar known as Pat O’Brien’s Universal. This legendary establishment has been a mainstay in the French Quarter since 1933, serving up classic cocktails and good times to locals and tourists alike. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history and legacy of Pat O’Brien’s Universal.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Founding of Pat O’Brien’s: An Unexpected Beginning
  3. Birthplace of the Hurricane Cocktail
  4. The Fire that Changed Everything
  5. Rebuilding After Disaster
  6. Today: Keeping the Legend Alive

The Founding of Pat O’Brien’s: An Unexpected Beginning

Pat O’Brien’s got its start almost by accident in 1933 when owner Pat O’Brien decided to convert his speakeasy-style business into a legitimate bar following Prohibition repeal. With an impressive collection of liquor but no real strategy for attracting customers, it wasn’t until he started experimenting with sweet tropical drinks that business truly picked up.

Birthplace of the Hurricane Cocktail

One such drink was born out of necessity when a glut of rum forced him to create something that would sell quickly while using large quantities—a fruity concoction called the Hurricane Cocktail served in a signature glass shaped like a hurricane lamp.

Today, it remains one of their most popular drinks—a sweet and potent mixtyre composed primarily from two types rum (light & dark) & Passion fruit syrup with lemon juice which has become part and parcel with any visit to New Orleans.

The Fire that Changed Everything

In 1949 tragedy struck when a fire swept through much of Pat O’Brien’s Universal destroying most everything except for some stubborn brick walls that still support the rebuilt patio today. Out of the ashes of this disaster, however, arose a new era of Pat O’Brien’s that would help cement its icon status in the decades to follow.

Rebuilding After Disaster

Pat O’Brien’s rebuilt and expanded with an impressive piano bar and other amenities to make it a must-stop destination for any visitor to New Orleans. In addition to the world-renowned Hurricane, Pat O’Brien’s is also famous for its flaming fountain, private party rooms, and outdoor courtyard complete with musicians providing live entertainment nightly.

Today: Keeping the Legend Alive

Today, nearly 90 years after its opening, Pat O’Brien’s Universal remains one of New Orleans’ most beloved establishments. It has continued to evolve over the years while preserving its unique character and charm through multiple hurricanes without ever closing their doors once!


Pat O’Brien’s Universal has become not just a bar but an institution that has been woven into the fabric of New Orleans culture. From its humble beginnings as a speakeasy-style establishment during Prohibition to surviving floods, fires & hurricanes throughout history have all contributed to place Pat O’Briens firmly into our hearts as a City Icon.

Pat O’Brien’s retains all the vibe it had when it opened nearly 90 years ago; but now you can enjoy it within sophisticated surroundings while still enjoying one of their hurricane cocktails or perhaps even try something new from their extensive menu like Bourbon Milk Punch which is perfect for long lazy brunches with friends!