My research into pirates and people in colonial times in general has shown, not surprisingly, that as a whole they consumed a lot of alcohol, considering it to be a healthy alternative to water. While we associate pirates with drinking rum straight, they actually enjoyed it in a variety of mixed drinks. Here are a few of the more interesting ones I’ve come across:
Why bother with separate mugs for beer and rum when you can just mix it up together? Rattle-Skull did just that. Half a cup of rum was blended with a pint of porter and the juice of half a lime, then served with shaved nutmeg on top. My research described it as “a dangerously smooth and stultifying concoction.”
Flip was a blend of ale, rum, molasses and eggs. The eggs and molasses were beaten together in a ceramic jug, then rum was blended in, then the jug was topped off with ale and all the ingredients mixed together. Before serving, a hot poker was inserted into the jug and after it frothed up it was poured into mugs and served.
Bumbo was a mixture of rum, water, sugar and nutmeg which was enjoyed by sailors in the West Indies in the early 1700s, and it eventually became a very popular drink throughout the English Colonies too.
I suspect that coconut water was likely used in the Caribbean, and I can personally vouch for this one as an excellent drink when made that way.
Bumbo even played a role in the course of American history. Political campaigning in colonial times included providing generous amount of drink, presumably in exchange for votes. George Washington’s papers state that he used “160 gallons of rum to treat 391 voters to bumbo” during his campaign for the Virginia House in 1758. He won.