What Is Black Tot Day and Why Celebrate It?

black tot dayWhen it comes to memorable duos, rum and the Royal Navy have a long and storied history together. Their connection dates back to 1655 when the Royal Navy began issuing sailors a daily ration of the spirit.

Not only was rum cheap and easy to store aboard ships, but it also kept well and didn't spoil, unlike beer and even water, which could grow algae. Life at sea was also difficult, and the ration was a bright spot during long days.

That everyday ritual quickly became known as "the daily tot." And up until 1740, the ration consisted of half a pint of neat rum, two times a day.

The tradition carried on for hundreds of years — until one day in the 1970s. Here's everything you need to know about Black Tot Day and how you can celebrate it.

1. Black Tot Day Explained

So, what's Black Tot Day? It marks the exact date, July 31, 1970, when the Royal Navy's daily rum ration stopped and the final tot was served onboard Royal Navy ships. To show their disappointment, some Royal Navy sailors wore black armbands.

The demise of the long-standing tradition was mainly due to safety concerns. The Admiralty Board was worried about the mix of alcohol and sailors needing to operate complicated machinery, navigational tools, and weapons systems.

2. Recipes to Try on Black Tot Day

While rum is always welcome at parties, Black Tot Day is a great reason to shine the spotlight on the spirit. Break out your favorite bottle, try a new recipe, and celebrate the final salute to the Royal Navy rum ration.

A grog cocktail, for instance, pays homage to a cocktail that became common with sailors. For a vintage tiki cocktail, try the fruity Fog Cutter, which packs a punch by blending orange and lemon juice with rum, brandy, gin, and sherry.  

You can even try rum made especially according to the historic recipe used by the Admiralty in their daily rations — the blend features a mix of rich molasses and sweet brown sugar, with notes of nutmeg, caramel, and toffee.  

3. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary

You can honor the final daily tot any year, but July 31, 2020, marks a special occasion: the 50th anniversary of Black Tot Day. So, if you're never celebrated before, it's the perfect time to pay tribute to a 300-year-long tradition.

Along with delicious cocktails, you can also add to the festivities with other rum-themed items. One option to try is a mouth-watering rum cake, a dessert that the Royal Navy has often provided for Royal Family celebrations throughout the years.

Raise a Glass to Black Tot Day

Ready to celebrate Black Tot Day? Try out a new recipe or make an old favorite cocktail, and honor the 50th anniversary of the day the Royal Navy ended its daily rum ration. There's plenty of history to learn about the 300-year tradition.

For more Black Tot Day information and great rum recipes to make, check out the rest of our site.

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5 comments


  • Liam O’Hara

    Yes it was a very sad day,the RNA Plymouth will be celebrating it’s demise this coming weekend in the Senior rates mess HMS Drake.One of the best Tot times was alongside the British Army field kitchen at Caernarfon in1969 for the POW investiture. I don’t think that the army lads were impressed!!!


  • George Gnnery

    I was a Royal Marine. I was with 40 Commando. We obviously did not get a tot every day like the Royal Navy. I do now have a tot of Pussers Rum most evenings.


  • George Gunnery

    Pussers the original Navy Rum distilled on Tortola in the West Indies. I have a tot nearly every day.


  • David Rubin

    Have just purchase a bottle of the Deptford Dockyard Reserve. Will be opening it and celebrating Black Tot Day on 31st July 2022. The removal of a much prized “treasure” from the RN is one of the most henious things the Admiralty Board could have done. I think in the modern day, we should give MORE credit to the RN Sailors for their ability to handle stiff drink! In my world, if given the chance, I would restore the Ration! God Bless the RN and those who sail for her.


  • Phil (Topsy) Turner

    I was on the last Ship in the Royal Navy to be issued a tot. HMS Fife crossed the date line on the 31st July 1970 so we had two 31st’s of July the second of which we had in Pearl Harbour in front of lots of TV crews


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