Literature and Liquor: ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and the Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Despite his unconventional approach to writing, Hunter S. Thompson created a wildly entertaining story when he penned his most famous novel, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” This drug-fueled and liquor-soaked adventure in Sin City was written in Thompson’s own unique style, blending fact and fiction while telling the story subjectively from the author’s point of view, which later became known as Gonzo journalism.

The narrative follows the surreal experiences of journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo as they trash two hotel rooms, consume an incredible amount and variety of illicit drugs, crash a couple cars and terrify the locals of Las Vegas. Raoul Duke is Hunter S. Thompson’s fictionalized version of himself, and Dr. Gonzo supposedly represents Thompson’s lawyer and friend Oscar Zeta Acosta.

Although the plot seems to focus on the vivid episodes of drug use and culture along the deranged road trip Duke finds himself on, the themes drift into critiquing multiple cultural movements of America in the 1960s. As the full title of the novel implies “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” Thompson was very perceptive of the superficial consumerism that ran rampant in the mainstream culture that preached about the American Dream.

However, Thompson’s character Duke also critiqued psychedelic movement leaders such as Timothy Leary, who rebelled against the American dream in search of consciousness expansion. Instead of subscribing to a certain side or culture, Duke and Dr. Gonzo remain hypocritical outsiders through the entire novel, pointing out flaws in others while wolfing down sheets of blotter acid in the corner.

An excellent bottle to keep you company while exploring the hallucinatory exploits of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo is Kraken Black Spiced Rum. Instead of most light white rums, black rums are not as heavily filtered during the distillation process, and rely on a flavoring agent such as molasses or caramel. From the thick sucrose taste of the Kraken, it is apparent that molasses is one of the key ingredients, yet not the only one. There are notes of licorice, vanilla, dark chocolate, ginger, cinnamon, black cherry and even more spices. Although the flavor of this rum is complex and textured when served neat, this is a heavy and dark drink. If you are unaccustomed to drinking hard liquor straight, it might be best served with ice or a mixer such as ginger beer. Although rum is one of many liquors mentioned in the book, it is easy to imagine that an avid drinker such as Thompson would have appreciated the Caribbean brand for its taste and its strength. With an alcohol percentage of 47 and an intense dark molasses flavor, Kraken Rum is a bargain at just over $20 a bottle.


Dean Ravenola is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at dean.ravenola@uconn.edu.