Pirate Drink of Choice: Bumbo

While you likely have heard of grog which is any variety of alcoholic beverages, have you ever heard of bumbo? The word grog originally referred to a drink made from water and rum which was first prepared under the direction of British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon on the naval squadron he commanded in West Indies in August of 1740.  Vernon regularly wore attire aboard that consisted of a coat made from grogram cloth and was subsequently nicknamed Old Grogram or Old Grog. As a result, the water and rum concoction he came up with was referred to as grog. While many people are under the assumption that pirates drank grog, they actually preferred a drink called bumbo which was inspired by the navy’s version of grog. Read more below to learn about pirate grog, bumbo.


Pirate Grog: Bumbo 

Pirates made a modification of grog which they called bumbo by mixing rum and water, but then they would add sugar and nutmeg as well. Although the navy grog is more well known, bumbo was actually the tastiest option of the two. While navy grog was simply watered down rum, bumbo is an improved version of grog. Since pirates regularly pillaged supplies from villages or ships they encountered, they were able to add a little more variety to their drink.  While bumbo is a simple drink containing the key components of rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg, it was definitely a step up from the standard navy grog. Some people even believe that pirates may have inadvertently created the first tropical drink as they also added fresh lime juice to their bumbo when available. Can you imagine a surly pirate with a fruity cocktail in his hand? Not your typical image of a pirate, but it is closer to the truth than you would first believe. 


History of Pirate Bumbo  

In addition to bumbo, pirates would basically be more than happy to drink whatever forms of alcohol that could get their hands on. It also really depended on what each pirate crew member could afford to buy based on their earnings. While pirates would gladly drink any forms of liquor they could obtain, an average pirate crew member regularly drank rum since it was an inexpensive option. In addition to providing a buzz, many people believed that grog and bumbo also helped to ward off scurvy which was a disease brought up by a diet lacking in nutrients and fresh foods. 


Simple Bumbo Recipe

Are you interested in drinking like a pirate yourself? If so, you can try a simple recipe for bumbo and let us know what you think. If you stick to the traditional recipe, a mug of Bumbo would be very similar to a modern day spicy rum cocktail. You can even add cinnamon along with nutmeg and sugar which can give your drink a Christmas rum punch like taste. Bumbo recipes are quite casual, so you can cater the ingredients to each person’s taste.  If you want to mix things up even more, you can try adding coconut water, tropical fruit juice, or even more rum to pack a punch. As you can imagine, a true pirate can never have too much rum. Back in World War II, a cocktail that was similar to Bumbo was the Ortona Cocktail which enjoyed by Canadian soldiers that were fighting in Italy. 

As you can see, pirate grog or bumbo is a simple drink that you can make at home today if you want to live like a pirate for a few hours. Try mixing up rum, water, nutmeg and sugar and let us know what you think.