Recently I embarked on an amazing trip; discovering rum, food, and culture in Louisiana. Not only was this trip eye opening to everything that Louisiana has to offer but it also presented a glimpse of how local business and communities’ work together to highlight their collective strengths and contributions.
My first stop off the airplane was Lake Charles Louisiana. I had never actually heard of this small town but let me tell you that it didn’t take long to understand why it remains such a secret; this hidden gem really offers something for everyone. As soon as I arrived in Lake Charles I was greeted by Amanda from the Lake Charles CVB and was taken to the Golden Nugget Resort. This resort really gives the esteemed Las Vegas style casino resorts a run for their money with its beautiful grounds and amenities. They offer a beautiful pool area as well as amazing restaurants, incorporating everything from elevated fine dining to Starbucks.
After spending some time checking out the hotel we took a horse and carriage ride through the historic district of Lake Charles with tour guide Adley Cormier on board; sharing haunting stories of different Lake Charles historically sites with us.
After this explorative tour we headed to a new place in town for dinner called Restaurant Calla where we enjoyed delicious modern tapas and Louisiana cocktails prepared by Chef David Sorrells, formerly with The French Laundry, and his amazing team. With a menu that changes daily the team here are really showing why their venue is heading up the culinary scene in Lake Charles. Everything I tasted on the menu was outstanding; some of the highlights included the Country Spread, which is compromised of pimento cheese, crackers, deviled eggs, ham, biscuit, beer mustard and pickles. Once the spread vanished we were treated to the Broken Arrow Venison, which was served with organic blue grits and lingonberry mop sauce. The cocktails were also outstanding featuring items like the RedRum signature cocktail made with Bayou Select Rum, Benedictine, honey, lemon, mint leaves, and Polynesian kiss bitters.
The next morning we were treated to breakfast at the Claim Jumper at the resort before making our way to the Bayou Rum Distillery for a tasting of their full product line and a tour of the wonderful facilities.
The best part of staying at the Golden Nugget was that it was really close to the Bayou Rum Distillery and the commute was very quick and easy.
My favorite part of the distillery was when they bought out the baby alligators for everyone to hold and take photos of; they are the cutest little things ever! I also didn’t know that Louisiana Spirits is the largest private rum distillery in the USA and the facility offers free distillery tours to the public. Once they pried the baby alligators from us we were seated for a delicious lunch at the distillery consisting of fried catfish and a crawfish jambalaya (just so you know you’re in Louisiana) with some great cocktail pairings.
After lunch we loaded up again and went on an eco-tour boat ride with Grosse Savanne ECO-TOURS through the Louisiana swamp where we got to see the mothers and fathers of the baby alligators we were holding just a few hours before along with many other species of wildlife while being whipped around the marshes in an open air boat.
Next on the agenda was the Mardi Gras Museum full of old frocks and props from previous festivities that had been donated. We were even allowed to try on some of the glamorous frocks and play dress ups for a while.
For dinner on this evening we remained at the resort and dined at The Golden Nugget Country Club where we indulged on succulent offerings of scallops, oysters, pimento cheese and grilled shrimp accompanied again with some delicious Bayou Rum signature cocktails.
The third and final day began with Bayou Satsuma Mimosas followed by a journey from Lake Charles to the spectacular Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. Not only are the rooms amazing their service is outstanding. When I checked in to my room there was a “Make your Own” Bloody Mary Bar waiting for me to enjoy! After customizing and imbibing on my bloody mary it was time for happy hour cocktail with one of my favorite southern bartenders, Kent Westmoreland, who you may remember from our Influencers of Tales of the Cocktail article.
After a few amazing cocktail we made our way to Restaurant R’evolution for a delicious dinner prepared by award-winning chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto.
We enjoyed a three-course menu paired with four signature Bayou Rum Cocktails, see menu below:
1. Drunken Pink Lady Salad with Baby Lettuces, Smoked Walnuts, and Saint Agur Blue
2. Satsuma Glazed Duck Breast with Spiced Butternut Puree, and Russian Red Kale
3. Bayou Rum Cake with Mango and Banana Ice Cream
1. Satsuma Belle Époque - Bayou Satsuma Rum, Chef Folse Kumquat Ratafia, and Sparkling wine
2. Charred Satsuma Old Fashioned - Bayou Select Rum, House Made Charred Satsuma Oleo Sacchrum, and Bitters
3. Harvest Moon Daiquiri - Bayou Spiced Rum, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, and El Guapo Bitters
4. Hurricane Able - Bayou Silver Rum, Galliano, Fresh Squezzed Orange and Lime Juice, Pineapple Juice, Passion Fruit Nectar, Simple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, and Floated with Goslings Black Seal Rum
After dinner everyone strolled over to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse for a few more cocktails to bring the evening, and unfortunately our Bayou Rum experience, to an end. If you are ever visiting Louisiana you should check out Lake Charles, Bayou Rum Distillery, and Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans.
Once I got home I created my own cocktail using Bayou Rum which is perfect for New Years Eve. Check it out here!
Founder and creator of the cocktail website and blog Beautiful Booze. Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, recipe developer, and social media guru. Beautiful Booze the website features over 400 original recipes and photography that celebrate cocktails. From "DIY" bourbon tastings to simple 2-ingredient cocktails Beautiful Booze has something special shaking for everyone. Beautiful Booze has been named one of the top 5 cocktail Instagram accounts to follow and Natalie has a passion for Instagram and social media. Natalie is a regular contributor to Foodable WebTV, Drinkwire, Vinepair, and Delish. Her recipes have been featured on Liquor.com, Huffington Post, Fox News Magazine, Today Show, Latin Kitchen, Cosmopolitan, Pop Sugar, Country Living and many more.