It is very common these days to see the life of a pirate glamorized and romanticized in books and Hollywood movies. Much of this fun-loving, rowdy reputation was the result of their love of drinking. Pirates were widely known in contemporary sources to drink just about anything, but rum was undoubtedly their favourite on their voyages. Whether the spirit was gained by force, coin, or stealth, the drunken escapades it fuelled are now the stuff of legend.
Rum: the favorite liquor of the Caribbean!
The Caribbean waters were once the focal point for pirate activity. It was in the Caribbean that pirates would attack and loot naval and merchant vessels. They would take the crew hostage and conficate valuables for sale in ports across the waters. Many pirates would start out their careers as naval sailors, aboard merchant vessels, but would turn to piracy either as a result of discharge from such services, or because of the attractively lenient life to be found amongst buccaneers. Pirates were better paid and less restricted.
Rum on pirate ships
Liquor, and in particular rum, rose to prominence on all vessels due, in part, to the truly long-haul voyages that resulted from Europeans settling in the Americas. Grog, that well-known mariners drink, was a blend of rum, water, and sometimes lime, mixed with water to sanitize it after stagnation. In the navy this would be rationed to sailors twice a day, but pirates could have as much as they wished.
Rum from the Caribbean
The vast majority of the world’s rum came from, and still comes from, the Caribbean. Jamaica and the surrounding areas produce the most overall. Sugar, is a large and plentiful resource there which was exported to America and Europe, but which was expensive to move. Rum, distilled from sugar, however, was cheaper to transport and so became a staple export. This meant that many of the ships attacked by pirates were laden with barrels of rum, ripe for the taking. They could be sold for a pretty price, but pirates tended to drink a fair chunk of this kind of loot.
Disregard for Sobriety
A result of this bustling trade and plentiful rum meant that pirate vessels were always well-equipped, and pirates always had access to rum. The relaxed rules on drinking, however, could lead to over-indulgence (I know, SHOCKING). On military vessels this was less of an issue as liquor would be strictly rationed. The result of such lax discipline was a disregard for sobriety, and even the loss of their pirate ship because the crew were too inebriated to defend themselves.
So, while rum was a big part of the pirate’s life, it had its good and bad points.
½ oz. Coconut Rum
1 ½ oz. White Rum
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
2 oz. Orange Juice
½ oz. Lime Juice
Splash of Grenadine
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and pour over tall ice-filled glasses.