Credit: Sketches of Life at Malta 1882

Grog Was a Pirates Drink

Many storytellers, historians and authors alike agree: grog was a pirate’s drink. But what secrets and mysteries are behind this legendary drink that pirates – and lately, pirate aficionados – have held in high regard for almost three centuries? Although, in many cases, the drink has been altered, or even associated with other beverages that have been linked to pirates and pirate stories throughout the years, the original grog is an actual, very real alcoholic drink that was initially invented by sailors, and later modified and popularized by pirates.

Before becoming a pirate’s drink, grog was actually invented by Admiral Edward Vernon, whose nickname was “Old Grog” – hence the name. The drink was introduced to and popularized by honest sailors and, in its initial form, it contained either water or “small beer” (a weaker type of beer), along with added rum and lemon or lime juice for enhanced strength and flavor. The drink became widely popularized, and pirate aficionados are still improving and perfecting the art of making it today, adding cinnamon or sugar to enhance the flavor.

Grog was a pirate’s drink in the 18th century, but despite its widespread popularity, pirates themselves rarely actually drank the beverage in its original form. Grog was initially brought forth by Admiral Vernon and introduced to the Royal British Navy in 1740. The drink later replaced the regular dose of rum given to sailors – rum had caused several problems and illnesses due to its strength and sailors commonly drinking larger than necessary doses. Grog, on the other hand, was a much healthier alternative due to the lime juice included, and it became renowned for its ability to fend off a variety of diseases – mainly scurvy – that sailors would constantly contract in the past.

If you’re interested in making genuine grog, the original recipe basically involves a simple preparation and mixing process that can be completed in as little as 4 minutes. 1 oz. of brown sugar is initially placed into the shaker and dissolved in 1 oz. of warm water, then lime juice is added. You then have to add 1 oz. of rum (use dark rum for a “real” pirate’s drink), and finally introduce another 3 oz. of water before shaking the whole mix and adding smashed ice. You can then enjoy your refreshing beverage and start talking like a pirate!

The beverage is commonly associated with pirates due to its widespread popularity and, in larger part, as a result of its commonplace appearance in stories, books and movies throughout the past century. When pirates drank grog, however, the drink was actually very different, the first type of original “pirate’s grog” having been made from rum and water mixed with nutmeg and sugar. They even changed its name to “bumbo” so that it basically became a separate type of drink entirely. Nevertheless, grog still is considered to be a genuine pirate’s drink today, even though it did fall into obscurity for a while, mainly due to the fact that rum was banned in the Caribbean in the years after the drink became known throughout the world.


Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

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