Grog is Groovy, but Bumboo’s Better

The Golden Age of Piracy occurred during a short 15 year span in the early 18th century. From this era we have the stereotype of pirates today worn by millions of children on Halloween. Characters such as “Calico” Jack, Anne Bonny and Blackbeard come from this time and the resurgence of interest in pirates today has a lot to do with the popularity of Hollywood’s depiction of the swashbuckling seas (a few sexy pirate actors helps too).

Rum was one of the commodities that pirates valued as much as pieces of eight. Even sailors serving under the crowns of Europe coveted Caribbean rum. However, depending upon which side of the law one was on usually determined how one drank his rum.

As maritime journeys got longer, fresh water needed a way to avoid becoming algae filled and slimy. So, they tended to add beer, brandy or wine to the mix to prevent stagnation. To avoid scurvy during these long voyages they also added citrus juice to the mix. After the British took control of the Caribbean in the mid 17th century, they began adding rum to the mix but they usually gave the daily ration of rum to sailors straight. While good for morale in most cases, discipline, illness, accidents and the habit of some sailors saving their rations to binge every few days required a change in policy.

After the mid 1700s (interestingly long past the age of pirates) sailors serving the law typically drank grog, which was an evolutionary result based out of necessity more than just a byproduct of boredom and morale management. The new rations were mixed with water with a little citrus and made sailors very unhappy. The sailor’s name for this new mix was “Grog” named after Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon who had a habit of wearing a grogram coat. Sailors called the new recipe “as thin as Old Grog’s cloak.” This daily ration became an official part of Royal Navy regulations until July 30, 1970 when the last whistle of “Up Spirits” was heard for British sailors after the House of Commons changed regulations.

Bumboo was decidedly different and more to the tastes of pirates and short-haul merchantmen who tended to stay in and around the Caribbean. With a diet already full of fresh fruits and vegetables (and reduced instances of scurvy) the citrus was removed from the recipe and cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar were added back in for a spicier, sweeter concoction. One or two glasses of Bumboo will have anyone squinting an eye and shouting “Yarrrrrrrrr.”

The following recipe is a modernized Bumboo recipe and does include a little citrus to help you prevent you from becoming a scurvy bastard.

Apple Bumboo
1 part dark rum (awww, go ahead give it two parts matey)
1 part apple juice
The juice from one lime
splash of Angustura Bitters
a liberal dash of nutmeg
a liberal dash of cinammon

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and serve.

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