In its earliest incarnation, grog was merely a mixture of hot rum and water with an occasional sprinkling of spices. The 18th-century British admiral Edward Vernon, nicknamed Old Grog for the grogram fabric cloak he wore, attempted to prevent scurvy among his men by serving them a pint of rum a day. The dark navy rum had nothing to do with scurvy, but it did have a way of knocking the sailors on their duffle bags. Vernon then issued the infamous Captain’s Order Number 349, stating that all rum should be mixed with water, a dash of brown sugar, and lime to make it more palatable. In their displeasure, the sailors christened the weakened beverage after the admiral.
Grog has undergone many refinements over the years and is now served comfortingly warm or refreshingly cool. The original rum used in grog did not become available to the public until the 1980s. That it made its way to the liquor store shelves was more than coincidental or generous on the part of the manufacturer—the British navy phased out the daily ration of rum in the late 1970s. The rum is now sold under the label Pusser’s Navy Rum—pusser being slang for the purser who distributed it. The phrase grog blossoms is a reference to the broken blood vessels in the nose caused by drinking too much.
For more warming spirits, see our hot toddy recipe.
This recipe was featured as part of our Drinks Around the World New Year’s Eve article.