Patricia Gannon: Careful ... you are what you drink

Rum has returned to Louisiana. Now, with two privately owned local distilleries making the spirit, our Jean Lafitte days are back. Long a favorite of pirates everywhere, rum is made from sugar cane, but that’s where its sweet side ends. It resembles sake, in that it has no defined production method and technique depends entirely on the region it’s from. With this in mind, Louisiana rum is making a play for society and turning up in high-end cocktails, so here are a few facts you should know:

Our own American colonists drank rum. In fact, records show men, women and children drank an estimated 14 gallons a year pre-Revolution. However, historians credit tea for the war.

Rum played an important part in the American political system as early candidates sought to influence elections. Candidates were expected to drink with the people to show they were true Republicans. Sadly, Republicans no longer do this.

While there are many theories as to where rum got its name, it’s most likely derived from an archaic word for “uproar,” of which there were many in early drinking houses.

Rum became connected to pirates when privateers who traded it later turned into outlaws. Sir Henry Morgan was the most infamous of these, now immortalized on the rum label that bears his name. History records he died not on the gallows but of liver disease.

Most rum is made from molasses. Molasses and water will also remove rust. In addition, molasses has traditionally been an old-fashioned remedy for a long list of human ailments, including muscle cramps and stiffness.

And while rum may not cure those ills, it will certainly take your mind off them.

Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at or at

Auld Lang Syne

Thankfully, New Year’s Eve elegance is not dead, and The Petroleum Club still kicks it old-school. Chef Pat George’s 2014 ice sculpture got a boost from cold wintry weather as Lafayette elite filed in to welcome the new year. The furs were out, a few tuxes here and there, but Janet Roussel’s one-shoulder wonder is what New Year’s Eve’s all about. “Here, let me take my coat off,” she said, and rightly so (never hide your light under a bushel). Also shining was Aurelian Thibodeaux. “Aurelian means ‘golden’ in Latin,” he said, and he was. What we loved: Always-sophisticated Sal and Madeline Ghandour, manager John O’Meara’s personal touch, the friendly Petroleum Club staff and Morgan Goudeau’s gentlemanly devotion to The Advocate.