During Britain’s colonization of the Caribbean during the mid-seventeenth century, conditions were abysmal aboard naval ships and much of the crew were forced into service. In order to combat dismay and improve morale, the British Royal Navy introduced rum rations (know as a “tot”) to sailors in the amount of half of a pint of rum per day (a navy tradition that continued until July 31, 1970)
Since rum production was thriving in the Caribbean at the time, the spirit was easy to acquire in large quantities (despite being far from home). However, the rum produced in this region was very high proof, leaving many of the sailors drunk and unable to perform their duties.
In 1740, Admiral Edward Vernon “Old Grogham” intervened, ordering the rum rations to be watered down and split in half to avoid further disruptions. He also suggested that sailors use sugar and lime to dilute their rum, and to make it more palatable (as the high proof, unfiltered rum was quite hard to stomach).
Admiral Vernon inadvertently discovered the recipe for the modern grog (and a surprisingly good defense for scurvy). Born out of wartime necessity, the grog still lives on in tiki tradition today.
Glassware: Double Old Fashioned/ Rocks Glass
Demerara syrup recipe (if needed):
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into glass over cubed or crushed ice.
Add a lime wheel for garnish
Wayward Spirits Rating and Twist:
Overall Score – 4 – The grog is a low-fuss, easy tiki drink to make. Though it lacks many of the complex flavors found in other recipes, it is a blank slate to experiment and introduce new flavors, and allows the drinker to taste the subtle differences between rums they choose to use. Additionally, it is a fantastic drink to make in bulk if you are throwing a tiki party.
Try using a mixture of demerara syrup and honey syrup (¼ oz of demerara, ¼ oz honey syrup) instead for a slightly different flavor. Additionally, this is a great cocktail to experiment with different rums to find which brands, regions, or tasting notes you enjoy most – try making it with a black blended rum (such as Lemon Hart 80), a high-proof pot still lightly aged rum (such as Smith and Cross), or a black pot still rum (Hamilton Jamaica Black).