The coincidence of reading James E. Valle’s Rocks and Shoals: Order and Discipline in the Old Navy, 1800-1861 and the opening of the America Eats Tavern which is serving grog for the first time is the inspiration for this post. Rocks and Shoals documents punishments in the form of flogging meted out for such infractions as drunkenness, fighting, disobedience, skulking, theft, sleeping on watch, etc. These charges and punishments are well documented in quarterly reports housed at the National Archives.
Of particular interest to me was “doubling the grog tub” which resulted in 12 lashes! Grog comes to us from the Royal Navy, introduced by British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon in 1740. Vernon’s nickname, “Old Grog,” came from the grogram cloth coat he wore. The drink was rum based, watered down with beer and/or water. Citrus juice was added to cut the bad taste of the water and, unknowingly, addressed the scurvy problem aboard ships at that time. The Continental Navy and then the U.S. Navy also served grog—twice a day—until September 1862 when the practice was discontinued. And that was many years before my tour of duty, alas! So…”doubling the grog tub” or getting back in line for your ration was a serious offense!
I have a great towel in my office embroidered with the phrase: “The rum will continue until morale improves.”
I had a chance to sample my first grog recently at the America Eats Tavern, Jose Andres’ pop up restaurant complementing our What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? exhibit. Owen Thomson, the Tavern’s mixologist, shared his grog recipe: Smith and Cross Jamaica Rum, lime juice, and sugar to taste. Worth standing in line for!