Tales of huge tentacled or horned sea creatures exist from ancient times, and persist to this day.
The Greek legend of the Scylla, a monster with six heads that Odysseus must sail past during his travels, is an example of this tradition.
In 1555 Olaus Magnus wrote of a sea creature with “sharp and long Horns round about, like a Tree root up by the Roots: They are ten or twelve cubits long, very black, and with huge eyes…”
If we rapidly fast forward from the sixteenth century to 2010, Kraken Rum surfaces in the Caribbean.
Named for the ancient sea monster, its blend of rum, caramel, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla & orange peel corresponds exactly with the potion brewed at Yaruba festivities and ceremonies when somebody in the community needs extra good luck, so this is an auspicious element for Effective cocktail consumption.
Although the predominant religion of the Caribbean is Catholicism, the Yaruba community is very active and it seems likely they were involved in the production of this drink, given its arcane composition.
The name is significant, as in the Yaruba religion it is generally believed that names are like spirits which would like to live out their meanings.
The Kraken stands for the huge, powerful elements we sense are standing behind the world as we know it, influencing our actions but rarely showing their faces. What we think of as simple luck and chance is often the result of the movements of these beings.
I had a golden opportunity to experiment with the properties of Kraken rum last night at BYOC.
A hidden speakeasy bar beneath the pavements of the City of London, it provides a candle-lit book-lined haven from the outside world.
You take a bottle of alcohol to them, and pay a £30 fee to have it converted into a series of craft cocktails while music plays quietly in the background and time flies by like magic.
Our handsome bartender Nathan dreamed up a few uses for the squid-ink black Kraken:
The Krakesso: strong black coffee, rum and fresh vanilla pods garnished with coffee beans
A Kralep ( A twist on a Julep): rum shaken with ice, fresh mint and lavender seeds
Kraken Flip (a twist on a Brandy Flip): Egg yolk, lemon, rum, sugar syrup & vanilla, garnished with nutmeg
Wake The Kraken Punch: rum, passionfruit juice, caramel, smoked paprika & chili garnished with orange peel dusted with paprika.
These felt like lucky drinks to me.
This is certainly the best method to experience the kraken, rather than in the flesh – simply looking upon the kraken can drive the viewer insane, a trait shared by many of the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods.
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.