Pirates Drink

What Do Pirates Drink?

Pirates are often characterized as drunkards and always ready for a drunken brawl. Their primary drink was rum, wine, and ale, and each served a different purpose. What if there was a perfectly good reason why they were somewhat drunk most of the time?

Did pirates drink wine?

Pirates did drink wine though that wasn’t their main go-to drink. The primary beverage was rum or ale. It is not that the pirates did not want to keep hydrated; water would stagnate quickly and become undrinkable. To make hydration possible, the pirates would add wine to the water to “disinfect” it and hide the rancid state taste.

Port wine, a dessert wine, was left for officers since rum would lead to the downfall of many pirate crews due to its alcoholic content. It is a strong, sweet, dart red fortified wine. The fortified factor makes the wine have a higher alcohol content than your average wine. The percentage is usually twenty percent instead of twelve percent and is typically taken in small amounts. Port wine is taken in small amounts, but that’s not to say the pirates did the same.

When pirates did drink wine, they would add oranges, peaches, or other fresh fruits to it to make sangaree or what we now know as sangria. Rum was never far and would often get added to the cocktail to make it more potent. Rum by itself wasn’t sweet, so pirates used fresh fruits to sweeten it and, at the same time, get their vitamins.

Pirates used to drink rum

Did the Pirates Drink Rum?

Pirates did drink rum, and not because they were alcoholics. The water was often undrinkable, and they had to add rum into the water to make it fit to drink. That is mainly because both the food and water would go bad since they did not have a way to preserve their food and drinks. Equally, the pirates found that adding rum did help them prevent diseases such as the flu and scurvy and as a stress reliever. Being on board for long months meant that pirates had to be smart about preserving their nourishment.

That is not to say that pirates did not consume excessive rum. In the sixteenth and seventeenth-century pirates were famed for starting battles and drunken brawls on the ship and land. The case was often when there were excessive amounts of rum, which was cheap to make, or when they were idle.

Did the Pirates Drink Mead?

Mead was typically associated with the Viking society and was seen as a national drink in Nordic countries. The drink itself was also a symbol of social identity and status too. Mead is a sweet wine made from honey and water with an alcohol volume of about twelve percent.

Mead wasn’t taken merely to get drunk but to keep the pirates healthy. While on land or ship, the beverage was a way to counter epidemics. It was effective in doing so since the primary ingredient was honey which is known for treating medical illnesses and its antibacterial effect. Equally, when honey gets fermented, the medical effects more than double, making mead to be a form of antibiotic. This formula made Vikings and pirates memorable warriors as they could use mead to fight diseases and infections.

Did the Pirates Drink Ale?

Ale or beer was an alternative drink for pirates as well. However, it was mostly served on short journeys or at the beginning of long voyages because it would turn bad over time. Ale is made from barley, wheat, yeast, and secret ingredients. What makes it different from beer is the yeast used that brought the drink a distinct state after fermentation. Pirates took ale instead of water during instances the water had gone bad and could kill a person who even drunk a sip.

Interesting facts about pirates drinking

Let’s explore interesting facts about pirates and their drinking.

  • Did pirates drink a lot of alcohol?

Yes, they did, but not out of choice. Rum was the go-to alcohol pirates used to disinfect stagnant water. Since they had to stay hydrated and the water they took had alcohol in it, pirates did, by default, take a lot of alcohol. While their reason for doing so was justified, it led to many brawls and battles they didn’t have to engage in, whether on sea or land.

  • Did pirates drink rum all day?

Rum was never taken as a sport but rather for health purposes. However, in a sense, they did drink rum all day but never straight, as they did mix it with water to make grog, or they would mix rum with water, sugar, and nutmeg to make bumboo.

  • What did Vikings say before drinking?

“Skol” was a common word used around the dining table or in an informal setting with friends. It is a friendly expression said before drinking to display friendship and companionship. When saying “skol,” the Vikings would raise their glasses to toast each other.

  • What does Skol stand for?

Skol is a Swedish-Norwegian-Danish word for “cheers” or “good health” and is considered a toast or salute for a person or group of people one admires. Skol is an expression the Vikings used around the dinner table before drinking. It is an expression meant to show friendship and companionship towards those they are with. When saying “skol,” the pirates would raise their glasses as a toast.

  • What kind of rum did pirates drink?

The rum pirates drunk was made from fermented sugar canes or molasses. The rum would either be distilled, be dark or amber, or over-oaked when it had stayed in the oak barrel for too long. Rum is native to Cuba. Winemakers would fill white oak barrels with cane molasses liquor that eventually became rum. The reality is that rum is strong and would easily make pirates drunk. They started mixing it with water and fruits to make it sweeter and less potent.


What pirates drank was primarily based on economics and what was cheap at the time. Rum was affordable, as was wine and ale. Pirates are primarily characterized as being drunks, but there was a valid reason why they were as such. Modern technology could have helped them purify the water, but they made do with what they had at the time.

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