When most people think about visiting Louisiana, they imagine the festivities related to the state’s most epic celebration, Mardi Gras. And while this popular event is the height of revelry across the state, you don’t have to wait for Mardi Gras to enjoy Louisiana’s festive spirit…or the variety of beers and spirits made there.
In addition to its reputation for being a great place to cut loose and enjoy the party, the Louisiana Coast has a long history producing spirits, especially rum, which can be made with native sugarcane. Below are some ways to enjoy the wealth of Louisiana’s beer and spirits no matter what time of year you visit.
Louisiana has been producing rum since the mid-1700s, when early Jesuits began growing sugarcane and using it for making “tafia,” the French word for rum. The tradition continues today at Bayou Rum, the largest private rum distillery in the U.S., located just outside Lake Charles. It’s also one of the most decorated distilleries—Bayou Rum has been honored 50 times in tasting competitions, including “Best in Class” distinctions from the American Craft Distillers Association and American Distilling Institute. All this acclaim hasn’t changed their authentic process, which consists of gathering raw, unrefined cane sugar and molasses pressed from sugarcane harvested in Louisiana fields. The end result is three varieties of rum: silver, spiced, and Satsuma, flavored with the juice of the Satsuma orange, a local delicacy. Tours and tastings are available Tuesdays through Saturdays, year round.
Guided by the motto, “grain to glass, cane to cocktail,” two couples from the town of Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish have stumbled upon a sweet and intoxicating combination using two favorite Louisiana crops, long-grain rice and sugarcane, to blend vodka, gin, rum and whiskey with a uniquely Louisiana taste. Donner-Peltier Distillers handcrafts its drinks in small batches at a distillery located in the middle of a sugarcane field. The results are Oryza vodka and gin made from rice and Rougaroux rums made from sugarcane, including one flavored with toasted pecans. In December of 2013, Donner-Peltier launched a brand new spirit, LA 1 Whiskey, named for its status as Louisiana’s first aged whiskey since prohibition. LA 1 contains corn for body, rye for spice, barley for balance, and local rice for sweetness. The distillery offers tours and tastings Monday through Saturday.
Beer is king in St. Tammany Parish, where three breweries are crafting everything from crisp strawberry and grapefruit ales to hoppy IPAs and coffee-infused porters. In fact, St. Tammany is the best represented of all the parishes on the Louisiana Brewery Trail. The popular Abita Brewery, the largest of the parish’s three (and a household name through much of the U.S.), is named for its hometown of Abita Springs. The brewery is open for free tours and tastings Wednesday-Saturday. The nearby Abita Brew Pub, site of the original microbrewery, serves up tasting flights—and tasty food—every day but Monday. Covington Brewhouse in Covington (naturally) brews eight varieties of beer available throughout the greater Covington and New Orleans area. Brew tours of their historic downtown building (formerly a hardware store) are available every Saturday. Family-run Chafunkta Brewery in Mandeville was opened in 2011 by a young couple with passion for good beer. They currently brew three varieties, and tours (with samples) are available on Friday evenings and are often given by the owners themselves.
* Info provided by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more info go to: Louisiana Travel *