“Rum For Your Life”
— Getting Nauti’s Primer on the Nautical Drink of Choice
If you’ve perused our online catalog then you have undoubtedly noticed our “Rum For Your Life” heavyweight hoodies, cotton T-Shirts, and tank tops.
“Rum For Your Life!”
Nice play on words, eh? And with an image that speaks of enjoying life rather than running for your life in abject terror. In fact, that “Getting Nauti” lovely image of two drinks sitting on deck chairs with a setting sun beyond might even have you hankering for a cold sundowner.
But what if you’re just not into rum? What if you only drink beer, or are of the ilk who believes that Jack Daniel’s the only booze worth swilling? Vodka? White wine? Tequila?
What if rum is just not your happy place?
Well, get the heck over it ‘cause if you plan on “Getting Nauti”, rum is the drink of choice. In fact, rum has been the nautical drink of choice since at least the early 1600s, when Caribbean and South American explorers discovered that molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, fermented perfectly into a delicious alcoholic beverage that made everyone happy under that hot tropical sun.
As for the origins of the name, take your pick:
- Old English slang for “fun”
- Last syllable of the Latin word for sugar
- Derived from the Romani word for “potent”
- Spanish slang word “ron” meaning “tumult,” anglicized to “rum
- Dutch word “rummer” which meant “large glass”
- French word for—
—Yeah, whatever, just pour me a shot….
Anyhow, rum’s popularity grew so quickly that it was soon a mainstay of the growing North and South American colonies, and one of the integral trade items between the old country and the new…and, for a brief time, even an acceptable form of currency in Europe.
The Royal Navy adopted rum as its official drink after capturing the island of Jamaica in 1655. Not only was the domestically produced Jamaican rum cheaper than the French swill called “brandy” they had been supplying up to then as a daily ration for every sailor, but it tasted better, too. Unfortunately for the sailors, Royal Navy skinflints started cutting the ration with water in 1740, which sailors renamed “grog,” and abolished the daily ration altogether in 1970.
In Colonial North America the distillation of rum became one of New England’s largest and most profitable industries, and George Washington ordered barrels of Barbados rum for his presidential inauguration. Our founding father set a precedent of sorts, as rum, and a candidate’s willingness to share it with the electorate, featured prominently in early U.S. election strategies.
Now at this juncture we need to point out that rum’s popularity in America went into a gradual decline during the first half of the 1800s due to restrictions on Caribbean sugar imports by the Brits in retaliation for losing the Revolutionary (and then 1812) War, and the ensuing rise of American whiskey production.
However, despite these setbacks through history on the consumption of rum, it remains popular and culturally important in coastal areas, especially those regions in which rum served as a mainstay of the local economy. In some areas—such as most of the West Indies, the Canadian maritime provinces and Newfoundland—rum sales far surpass that of all other alcoholic beverages.
In some coastal areas ordering anything but rum can be met with outright disdain. We’ve heard things like, “Mon, dat’s not a drink,” said to those ordering anything but rum in the Caribbean, and seen a Nova Scotian sea captain casually chuck a full gift bottle of whiskey overboard.
“Screech,” a Jamaican rum, has been Newfoundland’s unofficial drink of choice for over 200 years, and is talked about in connection with more strange old wives tales than any drink we’ve ever heard of. A lot of these tales involve cod fish, but our favorite is the Newfie belief that Screech can cure fertility problems. In fact, we’ve met a Newf who swears that downing a bottle in under five minutes led to the birth of his daughter some nine months later.
We could make any number of comments here, but perhaps we’ll just let you come to your own conclusions on that one.
Anyhow, all this to say that “rum” is definitely the drink of choice for those who are nautical minded. And if you want to be “Getting Nauti” then you should definitely develop your palate’s taste for the spirit. A good place to start would be by ordering a “Dark ’n Stormy,” a tasty concoction of dark rum (preferably Gosling’s), ginger beer, and lime.
Oh, and once you’ve garnered that taste for rum, you’ll be proud to wear that “Rum For Your Life” shirt.