Why Did Pirates Drink Rum?

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. 

From Jack Sparrow to Calico Jack, we often associate pirates with black flags, treasure, and lots of rum. But why did pirates drink rum in the first place? 

The answer might surprise you. Keep reading to discover some interesting pirate facts and why rum was often the drink of choice on the high seas. 

Water Didn't Stay Fresh Long 

Fresh water was extremely difficult to keep clean during long voyages at sea. Water was stored in barrels and quickly became stagnant and unsafe to drink. 

However, adding rum to the water made it safe to drink. In fact, rum played a big part in the history of the British Royal Navy.

Sailors received a daily ration of mixed rum, also called a tot. These tots were also used to help keep up morale. 

So, how does this relate to pirates and rum? It also played a part in the history of pirates. 

Pirates would ration out the clean water to stay hydrated and mix it with rum. It was the drink of choice, and it flowed freely on pirate ships. Hence the stories and sea shanties about drunkenness.  

Rum Was Plentiful

Most of the world's rum comes from the Caribbean. Jamaica and other areas in the Caribbean were the perfect places to grow sugar cane.

Rum, which was distilled from sugar, became a primary export. As a result, many of the ships on the waters that pirates attacked were filled with it. 

Crews tended to drink much of the liquid loot they found. However, rum was also used as a currency and often traded for goods. 

It Kept the Crew Happy

Long journeys at sea can take a toll on someone, especially during the Golden Age of Piracy. Life aboard a ship was full of hazards, such as nasty diseases, the possibility of starvation, dehydration, and dangerous weather. It could also get boring after months on the same small vessel. 

Captains needed to keep the crew happy, and one way to raise morale was through more rum rations. It was one way to prevent dangerous and potentially deadly mutinies

It Helped Prevent Scurvy

Many sailors and pirates faced the very real threat of scurvy, a painful disease that could afflict anyone that didn't get enough vitamin C. As you might imagine, it was tough to get enough vitamins in the diet so far from land. After all, this was a time when it was impossible to store vegetables for long lengths of time. 

Ships carried limes on board, which went remarkably well with rum and were often mixed in with rum and water and given out as rations. This bit of lime juice helped prevent scurvy

Why Did Pirates Drink Rum? 

Rum has been a favorite drink for generations, but it plays a special part in the history of sailors and pirates. So, why did pirates drink rum? In short, it was a valuable way to make water last longer and keep the crew in high spirits. 

While you may not need to make grog or prevent scurvy, you can think of the many long years of history as you enjoy our award-winning Pusser's Rum. Try some of our favorite cocktail suggestions and pour one for the pirates of old. 

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3 comments


  • Wild Sweetheart

    Using this to help write my essay. Thx!!!


  • pete

    As i crack a 12 yr old el dorado lol


  • Pete

    I learned something today!


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