Sipping into Summer

Calla’s new team debuts a cooling St. Suma Seltzer for steamy Lake Charles evenings



Summertime cocktails have a singular purpose: They must make you feel cool. For wanderlust weekenders awaiting tropical holidays, a well-crafted summer libation can help assuage yearnings for pristine beaches and emerald waters, poolside luaus and moonlight swims.

When the sun descends on steamy evenings at Restaurant Calla (1400 Market St.,, the Lake Charles cocktail cognoscenti gather in the newly renovated all-weather courtyard for bar manager Brandon Ashford’s new specials. The St. Suma Seltzer is a recent rum-and-citrus hit evoking seasonal flavors in a glass. The well-iced, cooling cocktail soothes contemplative imbibers with sweet Bayou Satsuma Rum embellished with notes of jasmine, grapefruit and a kiss of effervescence.

“It’s a super refreshing summertime drink with bright flavors heightened by satsuma, elderflower and a topping of sparkling water,” says Ashford.

A Lake Charles native and lauded mixologist, Ashford was brought on by new proprietor Ben Herrera to head the esteemed cocktail program when he reopened Calla in December.

Calla’s new executive chef, David Phillips (previously of the Chart House at Golden Nugget), is a four-year former veteran of Herrera’s flagship 121 Artisan Bistro. Like Ashford, Chef Phillips’ emphasis has been menu experimentation and expansion.

“Restaurant Calla is a vessel to experiment and introduce things to Lake Charles,” says Ashford. “I like to give my other bartenders creative freedom. We’ve added new cocktails, but have also brought back the Founder’s List based on favorites from Calla’s 10 original founders. We get a lot of regulars for happy hour.”

A former chef with an expanding empire, Herrera recently acquired City Market and Deli down the road from 121 Artisan Bistro. He transformed it into The James 710, opened in April. The sleek haven is helmed by Chef Michael Breese (formerly of the Asian-inspired Maypop in New Orleans). Future plans include projects in Sulphur and Moss Bluff.



St. Suma Seltzer

Place 1½ ounces Bayou Satsuma Rum or Gator Bite Satsuma and Rum Liqueur, ¾ ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur or Edinburgh Gin Elderflower Liqueur, ½ ounce fresh lemon juice and ¼ ounce cane syrup in a shaker and shake.

Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a dehydrated grapefruit wheel hanging on the edge of the glass.



Cocktail Callarestaurant



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