Maritime Monday for October 29th, 2012: What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 93
October 28, 2012


 –image source


Gordon Grant (American, 1875-1962),The Drunken Sailor”, c.1940

imageAlthough typically conceived as a song originating in British vessels, the evidence describing it in its earliest appearances come from America.

The first published description of the shanty is found in an account of an 1839 whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean out of New London, Connecticut. It was used as an example of a song that was, “performed with very good effect when there is a long line of men hauling together.”

History of the sea shanty “Drunken Sailor”

Robert Shaw Chorale; Sea Shanties on Amazon

imageAfter Miss Monkey’s delightful experience with Loose Cannon a cpl weeks ago,  she eagerly snatched up a six of Shipyard’s Monkey Fist IPA when it appeared at her local retailer’s.

The delight was short lived however… her brew-phoria dashed upon the rocks of disappointment after the (brief and violent) sippage of said tonic.  I’d sooner suck the moisture from a high and dry piling barnacle than to have that swill cross my lips again. Patooey!

Having lived in Portland the last 8 years, I was an enthusiastic consumer of the Shipyard product, but DAY-UM this one needs a keel-haul.

Now, before I get assaulted with a barrage of patronizing emails deriding my Neanderthal palette, Miss Monkey knows her beer.  She likes her the bitter goodness of IPA, with hops so strong they reach up out of the glass and claw yer cheeks.  But this just ain’t got the stuff. An onslaught of liquid aspirin and none of the expected follow through.

Should change the name to Monkey Fodder. Sorry guys, but the label art is way sub-par too.  You should have hired a moderately famous local blogger and graphic artist to design your product identity before you jacked her nom de plume for your latest release.

Monkey Fist IPA by Shipyard Bewing
image source


Schlitz Beer Ad, Wartime 1944


East India Pale Ale; Grant’s Spring Brewery Co. Limited

imageAmong the earliest-known named brewers whose beers were exported to India was George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery, on the Middlesex-Essex border. Bow Brewery beers became popular among East India Company traders in the late 18th century because of the brewery’s location and Hodgson’s liberal credit line of 18 months.

Ships transported Hodgson’s beers to India, among them his October beer, which benefited exceptionally from conditions of the voyage and was apparently highly regarded among its consumers in India. Bow Brewery came into control of Hodgson’s sons in the early 19th century, but their business practices alienated their customers.

During the same period, several Burton breweries lost their European export market in Russia because of new tariffs on beer, and were seeking a new export market for their beer.  At the behest of the East India Company, Allsopp brewery developed a strongly hopped pale ale in the style of Hodgson’s for export to India.

inset: Toronto Brewing & Malting Company

Demand for the export style of pale ale, which had become known as “India Pale Ale,” developed in England around 1840 and India Pale Ale became a popular product in England. Some brewers dropped the term “India” in the late 19th century, but records indicated that these “pale ales” retained the features of earlier IPA. A pale and well hopped style of beer was developed in Burton in parallel with the development of India Pale Ale elsewhere. Previously, Englishmen had drunk mainly stout and porter, but bitter (a development of pale ale) came to predominate.

This extensively hopped, lighter beer was easier to store and transport. It is often said that India Pale Ale, a strong and well-hopped beer was designed to “survive the sea voyage to India”, but some modern authorities consider this to be a myth. —Beer in England

A wooden tankard found on board the 16th century carrack Mary Rose
beer in England


1887 – Man Of War Ship Rations (print for sale)

imageThe word grog refers to a variety of alcoholic beverages. The word originally referred to a drink made with water or “small beer” (a weak beer) and rum, which British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon introduced into the Royal Navy on 21 August 1740.

Vernon wore a coat of grogram cloth and was nicknamed Old Grogram or Old Grog. Modern versions of the drink are often made with hot or boiling water, and sometimes include lemon juice, lime juice, cinnamon or sugar to improve the taste. Rum with water, sugar and nutmeg was known as bumbo and was more popular with pirates and merchantmen.

Sailors require significant quantities of fresh water on extended voyages. Since distilling sea water was not practical, fresh water was taken on board in casks but quickly developed algae and became slimy. Stagnant water was sweetened with beer or wine to make it palatable, which involved more casks and was subject to spoilage. As longer voyages became more common, the task of stowage became more and more difficult and the sailors’ then-daily ration of a gallon of beer began to add up…

history of grog on wikipedia

inset: Churchman’s Cigarette card; Rum Ration

Your Weekend Tiki Cocktail: Don the Beachcomber’s Navy Grog


(poster) Grog portion, Russian Navy

In 1862, the spirit ration was removed from (the US) Navy enlisted messes, but the Navy Secretary at the time, Gideon Welles, allowed “ales, beer, wine, and other non-distilled spirits” to remain in the officer’s messes.  It wasn’t until Secretary Josephus Daniels signed General Order 99 in 1914 that the spirit ration was removed completely.

“Sailors are drunks, we all know it,” said Westin Johnson IV, of the Navy League’s Tennessee Chapter, “that’s just the way it is.”  He was supported by Lawrence Sherman of the American Society for Temperance in the Sea Services.  “They simply can’t be trusted,”



Cutty Sark
perhaps the most famous nautically inspired liquor

Created on March 23, 1923 – Cutty Sark is a range of blended Scotch whisky produced by Edrington plc of Glasgow whose main office is less than 10 miles from the birthplace of the famous clipper ship of the same name.

The drawing of the clipper ship Cutty Sark on the label of the whisky bottles is a work of the Swedish artist Carl Georg August Wallin. He was a mariner/painter, and this is probably his most famous ship painting, and has been in use since 1955. more

imageGangsters like Al Capone made a fortune from the illegal trade in whiskey that was smuggled into the US via Canada and the Bahamas. The most famous whiskey-smuggler was Captain McCoy, known for his excellent contraband. His name became a synonym for good quality whiskey. In the speakeasies people started asking for ‘The Real McCoy’ when they wanted some of the Captain’s finest uncut whiskey.

Ultimately, Prohibition only caused the opposite of what was intended. People actually drank more than ever during those dark years. For the Scots it wasn’t dark at all, because they overthrew the Irish and American whiskey monopoly by shipping huge quantities of blended whisky to Canada and the relatively safe Bahamas. One of the brands Captain McCoy became famous for was Cutty Sark…

keep reading

Cutty Sark, Whisky Advert (30x40cm Art Print)

Cutty Sark: The Making Of A Whisky Brand by Ian Buxton on BookWorld

vintage advert: Cutty Sark – 1974

imageSuck the monkey

   — To draw liquor out of a cask with a straw. Sailors ashore would partially empty the contents of casks of paint and refill them with alcohol. Once loaded onboard, the contents were allowed time to settle and separate — pigment sinking to the bottom and alcohol to the top; presumably any remaining turpentine would end up in the middle.

Piercing the top of the keg with a straw allowed the men to draw off the alcohol. It is unknown how many men died as a result of drinking turpentine! The phrase comes from the original practice of filling empty coconuts with alcohol, the three dark marks on the coconut resembling the face of a monkey.

inset: Drunken Sailor by Susan Willard Flint (1902-1984) USA

imageRum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies as well as in the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland. This beverage has famous associations with the Royal Navy (where it was mixed with water or beer to make grog) and piracy (where it was consumed as bumbo).

Rum has also served as a popular medium of economic exchange, used to help fund enterprises such as slavery, organized crime, and military insurgencies (e.g., the American Revolution and Australia’s Rum Rebellion).

source: image, above right


great collection of rum labels, both vintage and present.
Currently 4755 label pics

imageThe first rum distillery in the British colonies of North America was set up in 1664 on present-day Staten Island. Boston, Massachusetts had a distillery three years later. The popularity of rum continued after the American Revolution, with George Washington insisting on a barrel of Barbados rum at his 1789 inauguration.

The association of rum with the Royal Navy began in 1655, when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica.Rum’s association with piracy began with British privateers trading on the valuable commodity. As some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the association between the two only being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Eventually, the restrictions on rum from the British islands of the Caribbean, combined with the development of American whiskey, led to a decline in the drink’s popularity.



see full size

Lamb’s 151 Proof Navy RumAlfred Lamb opened his wine and spirits business in London in 1849. His method of aging rum in his cellars under the Thames river is supposed to be one of the secrets behind the unexpectedly smooth taste. Lamb’s Navy Rum is reputed to be a blend of 18 separate rums from various parts of the Caribbean.


Mining through the depths of a Google Image search recently, I came across a striking throwback advertisement for Dagger, a long-forgotten Jamaican rum produced by J Wray and Nephew in the 1950s. That discovery led to another: TJS Labs’ Gallery of Graphic Design database, a treasure trove of advertisements from days gone by. Their archives for rum are particularly rich, with ads for Myers’s and Ronrico as well as other long-defunct brands like  Old St. Croix, from the pages of Time, Life, Sports Illustrated and the Saturday Evening Post, spanning the 1930s through to the mid-’60s…

more: Large-Up: Vintage Rum Advertisements
from the Gallery of Graphic Design


image source:
Pusser’s Rum sues mixologists over ‘Painkiller’ name


Pusser’s Rum issue on the HMS Endymion, 1905

(British Navy) Pusser’s Rum’s is a brand name of rum produced by Pussers Ltd, on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Pusser is Royal Navy slang for a purser, a ship’s supply officer. Pusser’s Rum is sometimes known as Nelson’s blood, in honor of Horatio Nelson.

In 1979, nearly a decade after the Royal Navy abandoned the custom of the daily tot of rum, company founder Charles Tobias obtained the rights to blending information associated with the naval rum ration and formed the company to produce the spirit according to the original Admiralty recipe, a blend of five West Indian rums without colouring agents.

The Royal Navy Sailor’s Fund, a Navy charity, receives royalties from the proceeds of each bottle of the rum sold, and that is now the charity’s largest source of income apart from the founder’s original bequest.

Official site
Pusser’s Rum Cake (Christmas is coming)


Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson is mortally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar:  on the deck of HMS VICTORY October 21st, 1805.

Shortly after one o’clock, Hardy realised that Nelson was not by his side. He turned to see Nelson kneeling on the deck, supporting himself with his hand, before falling onto his side. Hardy rushed to him, at which point Nelson smiled

“Hardy, I do believe they have done it at last…
… my backbone is shot through.” +

Legend has it that to preserve his body for the long journey, it was placed in a large barrel of Pusser’s Rum. Upon arrival in England, when Nelson’s body was removed, the cask was found to be almost empty of rum. The story was that the jack tars (sailors) had drilled a small hole in the base of the cask and drank all the rum – and thereby “Nelson’s Blood” – another name for Pusser’s Rum still in use today. –

(HMS Pickle takes on a whole new meaning)

Nelson’s Blood Flagon
–  (painting) Admiral Nelson fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar

Pusser’s – Rum and the British Navy


Jensemann : Drunken Sailor II

image[37][3]The Royal Navy issued the last tot to ‘the fleet’ on 31 July 1970. Since then, this has been known in Royal Naval Slang as the ‘Black Day’. The remaining rum stocks were put up for auction. They were bought by Brian Cornford and shipped to Gibraltar and held in a secure bonded warehouse.

As each visiting Royal Navy ship visited Gibraltar it was the task of Cornford and his General Manager, John Kania, to supply individual, wax-dated, corked, wicker-covered demijohns containing full strength (approx 110 proof) to the ships. When the individual gallon jars were finally sold, the large wooden barrels were tapped.

It was found that over the years some of the contents in each wood barrel had evaporated, and diluted the strength to a slight degree, though some would say it simply mellowed. The barrelled rum was decanted into litre bottles and sold primarily to RN, RAF and Army messes and selected local Gib pubs.

Some Genuine Royal Navy Rum still pops up in premium auction houses, and apart from the collectability aspect, the contents are vintage, and because of the wax seal is still as powerful as the day it was bottled. It is rarely seen, though bought at auction (the last time for GBP 1250) for special ceremonial events.source

Drunken Sailor Wooden Toy
Brunel’s SS Great Britain Nautical Gift Shop


Day of Mourning R.I.P. 31st July 1970 Last day of “the Tot” in the Royal Navy


Vintage British Navy Rum Flagons


Bay rum is the name of a cologne/aftershave lotion. Other uses include under-arm deodorant and as a fragrance for shaving soap, as well as a general astringent.

It is a distillate that was originally made in Saint Thomas “and probably other West Indian islands” from rum and the leaves and/or berries of the West Indian bay tree, Pimenta racemosa.

Other ingredients may be citrus and spice oils, the most common being lime oil, oil of cloves and cinnamon. It was first made fashionable in New York and other American cities before it was available in Europe.

rt: Antique Label Art – Imported Bay Rum

from The Art of Manliness:

The history of bay rum is as manly as it smells.  Sailors in the 16th century discovered that the West Indies bay leaf made a great perfume to freshen up and mask the stink they acquired while being stuck on a ship for months.

To apply the scent to themselves, the sailors would rub the dry leaves on their body, thus leaving the fragrant oil on their skin.

While sailors were rubbing leaves on themselves, farmers were cultivating boat loads of sugar to be shipped back to Europe. A few enterprising plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a by-product of sugar, could be fermented into a sweet alcoholic beverage. Brewers on the islands took the slaves’ crude  recipe, distilled it, and made it 10 times stronger, thus creating the rum we know today.

Tired of having to rub bay leaves on himself like a weirdo, some sailor got the idea that rum would make a great liquid to steep the bay leaves in to extract their essential oils and make an easy-to-apply cologne. And with that, bay rum was born. -keep reading

Bay Rhum & Guinness Handmade Bar Soap
(think Christmas)

image[40][3]Gun decking

Under certain circumstances drunkenness was not a naval crime. Shore liberty was granted very infrequently and it was expected that many of the men would return to the ship drunk, with clothes torn, and, bearing the marks of fights and riots.

The officers of the deck merely recorded the return of each man in the logbook. A man returning in reasonable condition was logged as “CS,” meaning clean and sober.

A drunk was logged as “DD,” which stood for drunk and dirty. A drunken libertyman had one prerogative that had grown up with the practice of granting shore leave. He was expected to conduct himself as best he could in the presence of the gangway watch; but upon reaching the gun deck, he was allowed to curse the officers, the ship, the navy, or any other institution in the vilest language he was capable of uttering with impunity.

This practice was called “gundecking” and constituted one of the few ways which the men of the Old Navy had for releasing pent-up emotions.

image source


$175,000 in Liquor Seized by Coast Guard – Jan. 18, 1932

Boston Public Library: Load of liquor seized in Dorchester Bay by Coast Guard men from Base 5. Brought to US Customs Appraisers’ stores. Leslie Jones, 1886-1967 (photographer)
Vintage Photos of Prohibition in Boston


A Rum Bar (Circa 1940) on Vintage Jamaica
(more on Antanlontan Antilles)

In tropical British colonies gin was used to mask the bitter flavour of quinine, which was the only effective anti-malarial compound. Quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to form tonic water; the resulting mix became the origin of today’s popular gin and tonic combination, although modern tonic water contains only a trace of quinine as a flavouring.


Seagram’s Gin 1948 Ad – Monitor & Merrimac

imageGimlet (cocktail) – one theory is that the drink was named after British Royal Navy Surgeon General Sir Thomas D. Gimlette, KCB (served 1879 to 1913), who allegedly introduced this drink as a means of inducing his messmates to take lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication.

(Limes and other citrus fruit have been used by the Royal Navy for the treatment of scurvy since the mid-18th century.) The abbreviation gmlt (not Gmlet) stands for “give my love to,” commonly used in the days of the telegraph.


Beer and Vikings

imageAs of 500 AD, Vikings from what has been recorded drank a beer similar to mead called “mjöd”.  Mjöd was made from fermented honey and grain, also called ‘mead’. They also enjoyed another beer brewed from wheat and a variety of cranberry that was flavored with blueberries and honey.

Scholars have argued, for example, that the first domesticated cereals arrived in the inhospitable climate of Scandinavia as late as 700 AD, not for their food value but because the Norse found that they could make intoxicating liquor from them.

Vikings were huge beer drinkers. They would even stop mid-battle for a break, drink huge quantities of beer, and then rejoin the bottle “bare shirt” – armor and shirts removed. The Norse word berserk means “bare shirt” and this is where the term “going berserk” came from.

Some say that beer was introduced to the British Isles by the Vikings around the year 1000. It would be another 550 years before hops were used as a beer seasoning and another 100 years before their use was widespread.


see also: Ancient Viking ale recreated


1950s BUDWEISER / vintage advertisement


Carling’s Red Cap Ale, from 1952


C. C. Armbruster, Restaurant and Lager Beer Saloon


Cast Iron Ship’s Anchor beer bottle top opener / ebay



Mutiny & The Mollusk Oyster Stout
A nautical oyster stout collaboration with Three Floyds

imageAnother area of reform in the mid-nineteenth century which directly affected the Old Navy was the temperance movement. Prior to 1862 a significant portion of the enlisted men were confirmed alcoholics who entered the service for the sake of the grog ration.

This ration was the source of endless trouble for the Navy. Officers were painfully aware that the thirst for liquor among the enlisted men was a dangerous force that could compromise almost any operations if precautions were not taken to keep the men sober.

Drunkenness and other offenses related to liquor accounted for more sub-judicial punishments than any other category of crime and there were enough serious liquor-related problems to make drunkenness one of the more common court-martial offenses as well.

Discipline in the Old Navy


Anchor Steam Beer

Anchor Brewing Company a brewery and distillery on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, California.

Anchor began during the Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco. In 1896, Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.

It moved to its current location in 1979. It is one of the last remaining breweries to produce California common beer, also known as “Steam Beer”, a trademark owned by the company.

Historic steam beer, associated with San Francisco and the U.S. West Coast, was brewed with lager yeast without the use of refrigeration. It was an improvised process, originating out of necessity, perhaps as early as the Gold Rush. It was considered a cheap and low-quality beer.

During the 1980s Anchor Steam Beer began to achieve national notice and demand increased from only a few thousand cases per year that had been produced in the old location. It was the first of the modern microbreweries, and its success inspired many others to enter the brewing business.


Pair of Vintage 1968 Anchor Steam BEER Bottle
salt and pepper shakers…plus ceramic sailor!
on etsy


Vienna Brewing Co. Cincinnati, Ohio White Cap Beer Bohemian Type


Tuborg Münchener

SS Frank Jones.

SS. Frank Jones 1892-1918Launched in 1892, a ship named after entrepreneur Frank Jones  that traveled along the Maine coast as well as on the Long Island Sound routes.  At first it was owned by the Boston and Main Railroad, which in turn was owned by the brewer Frank Jones. The steamer Frank Jones traveled from Portland to Rockland, then to Bar Harbor and Machiasport. see also: Frank Jones Brewery


Marina Inn; Whitbread miniature Pub Sign,
The Marina, Saint-Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex

Designed by Violet Rutter, 1949


Whitbread’s; World’s Best Stout
Pub World Memorabilia



nautical beer steins Nautical Beer Steins

Nautical Beer Stein
via thingsihappentolike


Whiskey Bus: Cutty Sark 1959
(Source: tokyo-bleep, via 3quartersbourbon)

 Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr — (twitter)

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