Header image: Creativity of Sins menu at Stockton HK
Hidden cocktail bar Stockton pays tribute to Hunter S (Stockton) Thompson, an American author and journalist who lived a life full of sin and adventure. Delivering a new menu of 12 cocktails – Creativity of Sins – each drink provides a glimpse into periods of the author’s colourful, alcohol- and drug-fuelled life.
Thompson founded the gonzo journalism movement, a style where the reporter uses a first-person narrative and writes without any claims of objectivity, and is perhaps most famous for his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He committed suicide in 2005 at the age of 67.
Rum Diary ($130) is named after one of early Thompson’s novels, written in the early 60s but not published until 1998. To reflect on his time spent in Puerto Rico, which inspired Thompson to write the book, this room-temperature (just like back in the day before ice came along) cocktail is served with a South American flair, made with clarified banana, cocoa, pistachio-and-hazelnut bitters and bergamot. This drink is sweet but not overpowering and filled with warm, nutty notes.
Anita ($130), named after Thompson’s wife, focuses on the time the journalist joined the notorious motorcycle club Hells Angels. Thompson had affairs with many woman, and a daily concoction of whisky, orange juice and grapefruit juice was one of his favourite tipples. The refined version of this drink contains Sunday’s whisky, grapefruit falernum, apple-pie moonshine and preserved orange and is topped with cheese foam. This well-balanced drink is fruity, with the cheese foam giving a creamy, savoury touch.
For a spirit-forward drink, I recommend War Room ($140), combining all of Thompson’s best experiences in one cocktail, or Where the Buffalo Roams ($160), a conservative concoction versus the drug-and-alcohol combination of what he took on the daily to influence his writing.
War Room is slightly sweet, mixed with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Ardbeg 10 whisky, herbs and chocolate and topped with London Essence tonic to give a slightly fizzy ending to the refreshing cocktail.
In Where the Buffalo Roams, Hennessy VSOP is mixed with Fernet-Branca, maraschino, lapsang souchong, pandan and strawberry. Smelling sweet and boozy, this drink is earthy and smooth.
Inspired by classic cocktails, Curse of Lono ($120) and Gonzo ($135) are also recommended. When Thompson covered the Honolulu Marathon in 1980, he had a revelation during a fishing trip amongst the islands. Curse of Lono is a tiki cocktail made with Jose Cuervo tequila, Campari, sherry cumin, pink guava, kaffir lime and eucalyptus. This is a herbaceous, tropical drink that’s boozy and warm.
Gonzo is similar to a Bloody Mary, but filled with even more umami flavours, containing chartreuse, La Medida Madrecuishe mezcal, Mr Black coffee liqueur and tomato. This is a very savoury, slightly bitter cocktail. It represents Thompson’s trademark gonzo journalism, reflecting how he changed his writing style after British illustrator Ralph Steadman, a close friend, introduced him to drugs.
Learning about Hunter S Thompson through these cocktails was truly a wild ride, not to mention a wild read. The playful new menu by Lok Gurung, the bar’s beverage manager, is comprised of well-balanced drinks that aren’t too sweet, distinct in their savoury or spirit-forward flavours and incorporating local and pan-Asian ingredients. For those who don’t like living on the wild side like Thompson did, these cocktails can be made zero proof using full-flavoured alcohol substitutes. Stockton has been around for awhile, but it’s still a cool evening escape.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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