By Susie Drinks Dallas
I can tell you now that the moral of this story is that there’s more to Louisiana than New Orleans…like way more. So the next time you want to “laissez les bons temps rouler”, think outside (but don’t forget about) The Big Easy.
I recently enjoyed a visit to Lake Charles, the home of “The Spirit of Louisiana”, Bayou Rum, and then continued on to New Orleans. Throughout the week, we were treated to some really incredible, unique experiences courtesy of Bayou Rum and the Lake Charles and New Orleans CVBs.
After flying in, I settled into my digs at The Golden Nugget, a two-year-old resort hotel and casino (read: still new and shiny) that is currently expanding, and gave the room a thrice over. The rooms were surprisingly lovely…and huge…and all had balconies. Min overlooked the giant Vegas-style pool complete with lazy river and cabanas, and the whole scene made me really angry for forgetting my swimsuit. (Luckily, there’s a shop that sold suits in the lobby. Worth it.) Rooms in the other tower overlook the river, complete with a private beach and dock for visitors’ boats. (Swanky).
The resort offered quite a few restaurants-Vic & Anthony’s, Grotto, Landry’s Seafood House, and more – including one at the country club that features an 18-hole course designed by Todd Eckenrode. The restaurant at the club offered steaks, seafood, etc. with a slight Cajun influence.
A short ride outside of Lake Charles, you can visit the Bayou Rum distillery in Jeff Davis Parish. Our tasting was led by the Master Distiller, Jeff Murphy, and Master Blender, Reiniel Vicente, and we tasted all of their expressions – select, silver, spices, and their citrus liqueur, Satsuma. All are unique, and the select has found its way onto my bar cart permanently.
After tasting the rums, we were treated to a tour of the distillery, rack room, and the bottling line. Noteably, the distillery is the largest privately-owned rum distillery in the US using distilling process that are a blend of traditional and new methods using cutting edge distilling technology. And the rum is made with sugar cane grown right in Louisiana.
Oh, and we got to hold a baby alligator named Gumbeaux before our tasting and tour. How badass is that?
At lunch we were treated to some traditional Louisiana fare along with all the Bayou Rum we wanted, then were herded onto a bus and handed a Gator Bite – a hurricaneish cocktail using three of their four expressions. It was lethal, but delicious.