Category Archives: Rum

(Rum) Running Around Louisiana: Part 1, Lake Charles

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.


LAKE CHARLES

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.  Mine 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.

The Golden Nugget Lake Charles, 2550 Golden Nugget Boulevard (Lake Charles), goldennugget.com/lakecharles

Lake Charles’s Downtown area has quite a bit to offer–horse-drawn carriage tours complete with ghost stories, baby alligators, and some serious dining.  The abridged “ghost tour” we went on was led by a jovial man who told a good tale–mostly about a woman who still haunts their courthouse.

We dined at Restaurant Calla, run by Chef David Sorrells (formerly of The French Laundry), and the food and wine lists were an absolute delight.  The restaurant sources its ingredients from local farms and ranches making the food fresh and delicious.  The Blue Crab Beignets, Bone Marrow, Broken Arrow Venison, and Brussels Sprouts are not to be missed.  (I wish I’d had the chance to try some of their tiki cocktail options … a return trip is obviously necessary.)

Restaurant Calla, 1400 Market Street (Lake Charles), restaurantcalla.com

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, spiced, 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.  Find other delish cocktail recipes on their website.

Gator Bite
1oz Bayou Silver Rum
1oz Bayou Satsuma
1oz Bayou Spiced Rum
1oz orange juice
2oz pineapple juice
1oz cranberry juice
Juice of 2 lime wedges

Bayou Rum, 20909 Frontage Road (Lacassine), bayourum.com

To get a real feel for the area, we were treated to a nature tour by Grosse Savanne Waterfowl & Wildlife Lodge.  We went on an abridged tour, but were able to see an alligator (or three) and plenty of other wildlife.  The tour guides were knowledgeable about the area and … dare I say … ours was pretty damn cute.  (I’m sure that note’s not for everyone.)  The lodge apparently offers general “swamp” tours, hunting tours, birdwatching tours, and more along with lodging at their newly rebuilt lodge.

bayou

Grosse Savanne Waterfowl & Wildlife Lodge, 1730 Big Pasture Road (Lacassine), grossesavanne.com

I think the coolest little gem in Lake Charles is the Mardi Gras Museum.  Housed in an old elementary school, it has the Mardi Gras kings’ and queens’ costumes from the last 40 years or so along with neat facts about the celebration itself.  (We even got to try on a few of the lavishly ornate hats … we were fancy AF.)  Bonus: there were King Cakes waiting for us after our tour and, unbeknownst to me until that point, boudin king cake exists.  There is a God … and I think he’s Cajun.

Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, 809 Kirby St # 229 (Lake Charles), visitlakecharles.org/things-to-do/history/mardi-gras-museum

After two fantastic days in Lake Charles, we were swept away to New Orleans for more unique experiences.  Stay tuned for my recap of the shenanigans we got into in The Big Easy.  Big thanks to the Lake Charles CVB and Bayou Rum for all of the fun!

Product Review: Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast

“There are no basic drinks, just basic people.”


It’s hard to believe there was a time when pumpkin spice wasn’t a meme, but an actual source of excitement. I think my first taste of getting genuinely geeked out about the flavor was when pumpkin cheesecake showed up at a Thanksgiving dinner when I was a kid. The questions were instant–“Who put these tastes together? Why is cinnamon/pumpkin/spice so freaking good? How do I get more? Is there still going to be a pumpkin pie?”

The rarity was a huge part of the appeal, and as pumpkin-everything creeped into our lives, the rush was gone. I think my breaking point was bringing home pumpkin spiced goat cheese from a New England supermarket and my daughter asking why it existed. “Because they know I’ll buy it, you smart-mouthed kid.” I vowed that 2016 would be a year of pumpkin spiced moderation. I got one beer on draft early and nodded in approval. I have had one pumpkin-spiced coffee this year. (I did eat a tub of pumpkin cookie butter from Trader Joe’s, but I’m only human.)

That’s why I had to chuckle when I was asked to review Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast – it was like the Captain himself heard about my Halloween Humbugness and decided to intervene. The pumpkin spiced shot comes in a round bottle making its best effort at looking like a pumpkin, and it makes a perfect centerpiece for any Halloween party bar … if you’re into that sort of decor. It’s the first pumpkin spiced rum on the market and is designed to be everything from a chilled shot to an ingredient in a few fall cocktail recipes.

I’ll be honest, I braced myself to taste something closer to egg nog with a heavy pumpkin flavor before pouring it out (full disclosure – my first sip was out of the container because it felt cool in the moment) and was surprised to get a decent amount of cinnamon and spice along with the pumpkin. It was lighter than I expected, which made it easier to mix into drinks.

The crowd favorite was what the good folks at Captain Morgan call the Apple Jack-O (recipe below). We dubbed it the Jack-O’Blast n’ Cider. (Say it quickly … a few times. Get it now?) Either way, the reviews were positive and my wife said that this should be flasked and kept on-hand for all fall/holiday activities that involve walking around outside. I tried a splash in coffee and, while it wasn’t bad, decided this was best for cold drinks. (And that’s probably why there is a huge “best served chilled” suggestion all over it.)

All in all, if you’re a pumpkin person, you can get a lot of mileage out of this product. If you’ve hit your limit on all things pumpkin, skip the shot and make the cider cocktail or try making a spiced version of a dark and stormy or something similar.

They sent along a few other suggestions, including:

Apple Jack-O
4oz of chilled apple cider
1.5oz Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast

Orange Pumpkin Smash
1.5oz Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast
2oz orange juice
2oz club soda

Combine Jack-O’Blast and orange juice in a glass filled with ice and stir. Top with club soda.

Jack-O’Lager
1oz Jack-O’Blast shot
4oz Lager

Drop shot of Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast in a glass of lager beer.

Blasted Brew
0.5oz Jack-O’Blast
0.5oz Cannon Blast

Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a shot glass.

Captain’s Cauldron
1.5oz Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast
2oz orange juice
1oz cranberry juice
Optional: 1oz club soda topper
Lemon wedge – squeezed

Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice, stir and garnish with a lemon wedge.


CAPTAIN MORGAN JACK-O-BLAST RUM
captainmorgan.com
ABV: 30% / 60 proof
Price: $15.99 / 750 ml

You can find Jack-O’Blast at most liquor stores.

Cruzan Rum Blueberry Mojitos

I guess I’ve pigeonholed myself.  I suppose that I deserve it for making (writing about) drinking my hobby.  At this point, I’m no longer surprised when I’m asked to make a drink for a party as my contribution.  I was honored to do so for a longtime family friend’s baby shower recently.

The color scheme being blues and yellow, a matching drink was requested.  I did my best with a Blueberry Mojito made with Cruzan Rum … because I refuse to try my hand at a cocktail using Blue Curaçao.  (Thought I’ll say that some local bartenders are starting to use it more … and not doing it badly.)  While I thought the drink (which was the only alcoholic beverage served) would be plenty for the afternoon party, it was gone in 45 minutes!

BLUEBERRY MOJITOS
1 cup fresh, washed blueberries (plus more for garnish)
4oz Cruzan Rum
8-10 fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons mint simple syrup
2 limes
6oz club soda

To create blueberry puree, blend blueberries until smooth.  Add rum, mint syrup, lime juice, blueberry puree, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined.  Pour over ice and top with club soda.  (Optional: Garnish with blueberries, mint leaves, and a lime wedge or curl.)

TIPS: To batch out this cocktail, I combined the ingredients in a drink dispenser and allowed guests to garnish it themselves.  To keep the mint crisp, keep the stems in ice water.  Puree and syrup can be prepared in advance.

CRUZAN AGED LIGHT RUM
Website
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Aged: 2 years in American oak casks
Proof: 80 (40% alcohol)
Nose: light coconut
Flavor: vanilla with a slight banana finish
Sipping/serving suggestions: in cocktails
Price: ~$12 for 750mL

Drink dispenser purchase from WalMart for $5!!!!!!

Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

Christmasy drinks can be a little intimidating … at least by name.  I mean, who decided to call a creamy nutmeg treat egg nog or delicious apple cinnamon goodness hot buttered rum?  (What is a nog anyway?)  Well … as scary as the name “hot buttered rum” is, it adheres to the cardinal rule of life (or at least Paula Deen’s rule): adding butter makes it better.  Unfortunately the name isn’t an misnomer.

I found myself in Plano recently and happened into Holy Grail Pub.  Our waitress hardly finished saying the whole phrase “hot buttered rum” before I yelled that I’d have one.  After two sips I demanded the recipe and she nicely obliged.  I whipped up HALF a batch for a recent holiday party, and, even though it wasn’t even a tad cold outside (what the heck’s up with this weather?!), it was the first to run out.  (I’ve also had three attendees ask for the recipe, so I thought posting it was easier.)

HOT BUTTERED RUM (recipe from Holy Grail Pub in Plano)
1 gallon unfiltered apple cider (I really love the cider at Trader Joe’s)
2 Gala apples, cored & sliced 1/16” thick
2 Bartlett pears, cored & sliced 1/16” thick
3 oz fresh ginger root, peeled & sliced thin
4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups Sailor Jerry spiced rum
1/2 cup butter

Mix all ingredients in a HUGE saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve warm and garnish with an apple or pear slice and cinnamon stick.
(Makes a whole lot.)

Some quick tips when making this:

  • plan ahead on the size of your saucepan (it really makes more than you expect)
  • if you’re using a beverage dispenser, strain out the solids before you put it in as it’ll clog the nozzle
  • make this ahead of time … it’ll make your house smell ah-mazing

If you’re not into butter in your drinks or making giant batches of drinks, here’s a simpler version that you can spice up as much as you’d like.

SIMPLE SPIKED CIDER
2 parts apple cider
1 part spiced rum
1 dash cinnamon

Mix, warm, and add the following ingredients as desired: apple slices, pear slices, fresh orange juice, orange bitters, cinnamon sticks, more rum

IMGP5095

Check out more winter cocktail recipes on my recipes page!

Classic Peach Daiquiri Recipe

The classic daiquiri has been bastardized.  (I said it.)  The all-inclusive  resorts have misled our poor 18-year-old spring breakers and started a sad trend of icy, blended, sweet, frothy monstrosities with crazy straws and paper umbrellas.*

Many don’t know that the classic daiquiri is not only delicious, but incredibly easy to make.  It should start with a quality rum … no plastic bottles or cartoon characters!  I started with Rum Diplomático, a Venezuelan dark rum that is distilled from molasses.  Aged for 12 years, it has a dark gold color and has a slightly sweet taste.  Their daiquiri recipe is below.

DIPLOMÁTICO DAIQUIRI
1 1/2 oz Rum Diplomático
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
Garnish: lime wheel

Rum Diplomático asked me to come up with my own daiquiri recipe, a task for which I’m always game.  I added a little peach to it and have two versions of the recipe to try out–one slightly easier than the other!

CLASSIC PEACH DAIQUIRI
1 1/4 oz Rum Diplomático
3/4 oz Leopold Brothers Peach Schnapps or homemade peach liqueur (recipe below)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
Garnish: lime wheel & peach slice

Shake wet ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a daiquiri glass and garnish with a lime wheel and peach slice.

IMGP4015

If you’re anything like me, the only way that you get your fruits for the day is in your cocktails.  If you’re in need of your daily Potassium and Vitamins A & C, try this version with a little higher nutritional value.

CLASSIC PEACH DAIQUIRI
1 1/2 oz Rum Diplomático
3/4 oz peach puree
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 simple syrup
Garnish: lime wheel & peach slice

Shake wet ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a daiquiri glass and garnish with a lime wheel and peach slice.

National Daiquiri Day is coming up on July 19, so try your hand at a big kids daiquiri for a change.  (Paper umbrellas are still acceptable if you can’t do without them.)

 


 

HOMEMADE PEACH LIQUEUR
2 cups vodka
4 large peaches, roughly chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Steep the peaches and lemon zest in vodka in a tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.  After about two or three days, strain the liquid through a high-gauge coffee filter squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the peaches.

Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then heat until it becomes syrupy.  Let the mixture cool, then combine it with the peach liquid.  Leave for at least one day and store up to two months in the refrigerator.

*Ok … paper umbrellas are admittedly awesome.  They will still be allowed … when appropriate.

JEM Beverage Company’s New Facility

JEM Beverage Company (makers of Western Son Vodka, Red River Whiskey, South House Moonshine, and more) has shed its Carrollton roots and moved to Pilot Point, Texas to expand its distillery!

They offer distillery  tours Fridays (4pm) and Saturdays (1pm, 3pm & 5pm).  Oh  … and you get half off your tour if you arrive on horseback.  I kid you not.

Some of the #SDDContributor team and I stopped by their grand opening party this past Saturday, May 23 to celebrate.  Check out the trouble we got into!

Cruzan Blueberry Lemonade Rum

Just in time for warmer days, Cruzan Rum has announced there’s a summery new kid on the block: introducing, Cruzan Blueberry Lemonade Rum.

Cruzan’s newcomer to the scene packs a sweet berry flavor with just the right hint of tangy lemon. At 21% alc. vol., Cruzan Blueberry Lemonade is a perfectly sippable, lazy-day patio drink. It mixes perfectly with fruit juices (hello, boozy blueberry lemonade…), iced tea, and more.

I mixed up this light and refreshing little number, as suggested by the good folks at Cruzan …

Cruzan® Blueberry Lemonade Cooler
2 parts Cruzan® Blueberry Lemonade Rum
3/4 part Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 small pinch Sea Salt
Club Soda

IMG_6184

If you are feeling like stepping up your fancy drink game, here is a mojito recipe that couldn’t be a more perfect summertime beverage …

Cruzan® Blueberry Lemonade Mojito
8 blueberries
6 to 8 mint leaves
3 ounces club soda
2 ounces Cruzan® Blueberry Lemonade Rum
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 lime wedge or splash fresh lime juice
Garnish: Mint sprig and additional blueberries

Cruzan Blueberry Lemonade Rum
750 ml bottle $15
21% ABV
Buy it at your local liquor store or online.
*Cruzan graciously provided me with a bottle of a Blueberry Lemonade Rum for my sipping pleasure. 

A Night with Ballast Point Brewing & Distilling Co.

A bit ago I attended a happy hour with Ballast Point Brewing and Distilling at Bird Cafe. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ballast Point before going to the happy hour, and I learned that Ballast Point began as a small group of home brewers in San Diego, California. Most of the beers are named after fishing terms. The labels have illustrations of fish to pay homage to the brewery’s origin’s. After they made a name for themselves through their beer, Ballast Point began distilling. The company now has seven spirits they call their own.

Ballast Point happy hour beer menu
Ballast Point happy hour beer menu

I began the night tasting some of Ballast Point’s beer on tap. For those of you who like hoppy beers, go for the Grunion Pale Ale (5.5%). It has a nutty flavor as well as a summer fruit aroma. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer silver award. Next, I went for the Scotch ale. Piper Down (5.8%) is now in the running as one of my favorite craft beers … it’s not super heavy and it has a smooth taste. I tasted a chocolate, sweet after taste with this brew. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer gold award. The name came from Scottish bag pipers that drank too much … the piper became top heavy and people would yell, “piper down” when they began to fall. (I have to admit, I went back two days later for more.) My last tasting was the Victory at Sea Coffee/Vanilla Porter (10%). As expected, it was a dark, smooth brew. I am not a coffee drinker, but that didn’t not stop me drinking this beer. It had more of a vanilla taste than coffee.

San Diego Street Car
San Diego Street Car

Moving on to the spirits, I was curious about the first cocktail on the list–the San Diego Street Car (Devil’s Share Moonshine, Ancho Chili liqueur, corn water, lime, Burlesque bitters, egg white). I was puzzled by this concoction, so I had to ask the bartender how he came up with this interesting drink. He said it was his version of elotes in cocktail form. He wanted to bring out the corn flavor of the moonshine rather than mask it. After understanding the background of the drink, it made me enjoy it all the more.

I would urge you to go to your local liquor store and try out some of Ballast Point’s spirits. Here’s your shopping list:

3 Sheet’s Rum: made from pure cane sugar rather than molasses (80 proof)
Fugu Vodka: Filtered 15 times (80 proof)
Devil’s Share Moonshine (whiskey): hints of tropical fruit (98.6 proof)
Devil’s Share Burbon: American oak barrels, hints of caramel and vanilla cream (92 proof)
Old Grove Gin: made from juniper berries, rose, and coriander (88 proof)

Ballast Point Brewery
www.Ballastpoint.com
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Bird Cafe's amazing bar
Bird Cafe’s amazing bar

Bird Cafe
155 East Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
www.birdinthe.net