The word Grog sounds like it could be a name for some alien planet or lifeform. It’s a fairly odd word but it actually has a very straightforward meaning. According to wikipedia “Grog is any of a variety of alcoholic beverages. The word originally referred to a drink made with water and rum, which British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon introduced into the naval squadron he commanded in the West Indies on 21 August 1740.” So, originally it referred to a drink made of water and rum. It makes more sense when we look at the history.
A Brief History Of Grog
A couple of centuries ago, travelling long distances was done mainly by ship. On these voyages they would carry fresh water in barrels, but it would often become slimy with microbes and algae. They used to issue rations of beer and wine to mix with the water to make it taste better, since we all know that microbes and algae don’t have the best taste. This proved to be a big obstacle in longer voyages as it took quite a bit of beer or wine to make it taste a little better.
This is when Vice Admiral Edward Vernon came into the picture and introduced the idea of using rum instead. It allowed them to trade a pint of rum for a barrel of beer and saved significant space aboard the ships. However, the sailors would often save up their portions of rum and drink it straight. This was causing some problems and therefore the rum was to be given to the sailors in a premixed bottle that was two quarts water and one pint rum. Lemon or lime could also be added for flavor if available.
The practice of serving grog twice a day carried over into the Continental Navy and the U. S. Navy. Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy at the time, experimented with substituting native rye whiskey for the imported rum concoction. Finding the American sailors preferred it, he made the change permanent. It is said his sailors followed the practice of their British antecedents and took to calling it “Bob Smith” instead of grog. Although the American Navy ended the rum ration on 1 September 1862, the ration continued in the Royal Navy. Until the grog ration was discontinued in 1970, Royal Navy rum was 95.5 proof, or 54.6% alcohol by volume; the usual ration was an eighth of a pint, diluted 2:1 with water (3:1 until World War II). Extra rum rations were provided for special celebrations, like Trafalgar Day, and sailors might share their rations with the cook or with a roommate celebrating a birthday.
Recipes For Old Fashioned Grog
2 ounces dark aged rum
1 teaspoon zested fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar, in the raw
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 cup crushed ice
3 ounces fresh ice cold water
- In a tall glass pour in the rum, sugar and lime juice.
- Zest the ginger in, what you’re really looking for is the pulp, not the skin. Then you muddle it for a while until you’re satisfied with the mixture.
- Pour over double old fashioned glass half filled with crushed ice. (try and strain out the ginger pieces)
- Top with water and give a bit of a stir and enjoy!
1 OZ. LIME JUICE
1 OZ. BROWN SUGAR
1 OZ. DARK RUM
4 OZ. WATER
- Add the brown sugar to your shaker, add in a splash of warm water (1 oz.) to dissolve the sugar and add lime juice.
- Put in rum, rest of the water and ice.
- Pour over smashed ice.
Tiki Mug Grog
2 OZ DARK RUM
.75 OZ LIME JUICE
.5 OZ DEMERARA SYRUP
1 OZ WATER
- Fill mug with ice
- Add all ingredients to a tiki mug
- stir to combine
Captain Morgan Grog
50 ml Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold
1 tsp Runny Honey
15 ml Lime Juice
1 slice Lemon
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Add ice cubes to a cocktail shaker.
- Scoop runny honey from a jar into the shaker. Add Captain Morgan Original Spiced, lime juice and Angostura bitters.
- Shake the mixture until the shaker feels cold.
- Pour the liquid through a cocktail strainer into a Rocks glass.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a slice of lemon and place on the glass rim to garnish.
Navy Grog Cocktail
1 ounce white rum
1 ounce demerara rum
1 ounce dark rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce white grapefruit juice
1 ounce honey syrup
2 ounces club soda (or enough to fill)
Garnish: 1 orange slice
Garnish: 1 cherry
- Pour the rums, juices, and syrups into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake well!
- Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with an orange slice and cherry skewer.
- Serve and enjoy!
There Is Another Kind Of Grog
Grog is also closely associated with Pirates as well. This is because it has existed since ancient times, but the 17th and 18th century were considered the “golden age” of piracy. Famous pirates from this period include Henry Morgan, William ‘Captain’ Kidd, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts and the fearsome Blackbeard, Edward Teach.
In England there was social disruption. Farmers were forced off the land by ruthless landowners and smaller tradesmen were challenged by larger businesses. These displaced people flocked to urban areas looking for work. Distressed people weren’t simply worse off, they had no hope of making a better life. Piracy tempted poor seamen because it offered them the chance to take more control of their lives.
The explorer Christopher Columbus established contact between Europe and the lands that were later named America at the end of the 15th century. These ‘new lands’ were claimed by the Spanish, who soon discovered them to be a rich source of silver, gold and gems. Large Spanish ships, called galleons, began to sail back to Europe, loaded with precious cargo that pirates found impossible to resist. So many pirate attacks were made that galleons were forced to sail together in fleets with armed vessels for protection. As Spanish settlers set up new towns on Caribbean islands and the American mainland, these too came under pirate attack.
Pirates tended to not drink grog as the navy made it, but made a modification of it, which they called bumbo. They’d mix the standard rum and water, as in grog, but then would add sugar and nutmeg.
Gorg. It’s the perfect time of year to break out an old Grog recipe with Halloween just around the corner. Especially if you want to dress like a pirate. Don’t forget you can also break it out for “Talk Like A Pirate Day” as well. It makes the perfect themed drink for this type of celebration. As always, have fun, drink up, and be safe. Get a DD who you can trust, not some Pirate, Scurvy, Scum! Cheers!