The Golden Age of Piracy: Food and Drinks

A certain image has long been held and projected when it comes to pirates; the idea of the hard-partying, heavy drinking womanizer has most certainly held sway over the years. Between their swashbuckling adventures, and bloody battles pirates would certainly have needed a stiff drink now and then amongst their booze cruising; but the question is just how much truth is in this portrayal. After all, could it be true that all pirates were men (and some seriously hardy women) who drank pretty much anything they could get a hold of at any given time? Read on to find out the truth about booze cruising pirates.

Accessibility to booze for pirates

In many cases alcohol was more accessible than fresh water; no, really it’s true! Fresh water would stagnate on long sea voyages, but alcohol never did. The issue was, of course, that alcohol dehydrates; just what you don’t want when you’re working under the sun all day. The solution that these seafarers came up with was somewhat ingenious; they mixed small amounts of alcohol with the fresh (or, by this time, stagnant) water to mask the taste and make sure that the water was safe for drinking. Because there was only a small amount of booze in the water it still hydrated the crew! The result was that, whether it was wine, beer, or rum, many pirates lived their lives on a steady diet of watered down alcohol. Of course they also got daily rations of “pure” alcohol to boost morale and keep everyone happy!

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Rum soon became favoured while booze cruising, and today it is the single drink most associated with pirates. This isn’t necessarily because they liked it best of all, either; as with much of pirate life it was based as much on ease and availability as enjoyment. The Caribbean was both the epicentre of Pirate activity at the time and the area in which the most rum was produced and traded. As a result it was readily available in massive amounts to pirates; it was often part of the cargo on ships that they boarded. After all, this was very much their “m.o.”; to board ships, hold their crew for ransom and strip it of all valuables before racing off with their loot. Much of the other valuables, spices and silks for example, would be traded in ports but the rum was most often kept for crew use.

A wild lifestyle of booze cruising

The pirate’s life was a wild one in every sense of the world. The parties, the fights, the workload… it was all so much larger than the lives that ordinary people lived. The work of a pirate was hard and brutal: the hours were long, the dangers were many, and the work was largely physical. As a result they needed to unwind and blow off steam more than the average person. Hence the parties! They lived up to their hard-partying reputation while on land though excessive drunkenness was not allowed on board for safety reasons. Nonetheless, toasting a hard day down with some rum was one way in which they kept morale up on board.

So, what do you think about booze cruising and pirates? Wanna join in?