New Orleans' Hand Grenade: This Drink Specialty is Still Kicking

A popular, intoxicating cocktail original to the City, the hand grenade celebrates its 30th year of party-fueling

By Kristopher Neild,

When you walk down Bourbon Street in New Orleans on a given day or night, a few things stand out. Well, probably more like everything stands out. But as far as drinks are concerned, there is the hurricane and the hand grenade (No one is buying this jester nonsense.). The hand grenade is much newer on the scene, but it has worked incredibly hard to become mentioned in the same breath as the other, more historic libation. 

The hand grenade is unique first and foremost by how it is served - in a translucent green plastic container with a grenade bulb base and a shaft for your hand to hold onto. A straw is provided, which speeds up a drinking process that honestly should probably be slowed down.

A bartender mixes up a few refreshing hand grenades — Photo courtesy of Tropical Isle

The drink itself can be served as a slushy drink or on the rocks. It has a sweet melon-like taste with a slight burn that follows. It kind of brings back sweet memories of the recently prohibited Four Loko. Unknown is exactly how much alcohol is in the drink itself, but guesses range from "a lot" to "all of it."

Five Bourbon Street area establishments are licensed to sell the hand grenade (most of which carry the Tropical Isle namesake):Tropical Isle Original, Papa Joe's, Bayou Club and Music Bar, Funky Pirate and New Orleans Grapevine. The Tropical Isle establishments are each unique in their own way, some showcasing music, others simply a counter top where a full bar is advertised, but bottles collect dust while tenders pour pre-mixed hand grenades into green plastic. 

The fine people who created Tropical Isle are also to credit for the production, branding and marketing of the popular New Orleans drink. Rumor has it, the owner recently flew out to Germany to the Porsche factory to pick up a Cayenne painted "hand grenade green."

So, if you plan to attend Bourbon Street during an upcoming business or pleasure trip to the great city of New Orleans, then perhaps you should pay tribute to the drink that has gone toe to toe with the hurricane for the past 30 years.

Grab yourself some green plastic and hit the streets, remembering that you can keep your cup for discounted refills (and also that the straw can at times be your worst enemy).

Note: Purveyors of the hand grenade recommend the consumption of no more than four hand grenades over the course of a night. Drink at your own risk!