We all know pirates from legends and histories of books and movies like Pirates of the Caribbean. So how much of the dastardly drunken legends are true?
Ancient history from around the world is filled with tales of pirates harassing innocents- the oldest being 5000 years old. Before they were even called pirates, there were pirates! From the first moment someone decided to ship something valuable by boat, there's been a pirate intent on stealing it.
Life on the high seas was not a fun venture, it was a pretty horrible way to spend your life. Sailors often went hungry, drinkable water was hard to get, especially on longer voyages and brutality abounded. Ships generally packed more wine and rum than water because it was a cleaner drink. The famous sailor's drink, Grog, was a combination of rum, sugar-water and a little lime. It not only prevented scurvy and other disease but also made life a little more bearable on the ocean. The Navy men received a daily ration but pirates were allowed to drink it as they pleased. For the most part, pirates were treated better back in the day than their Navy sailor counterparts.
Pirates drank while eating, they drank while sailing, they drank before, during, and after fighting - making them - the first great multitaskers! While rum was the most popular beverage, pirates weren't picky. You name it, they drank it.
With rum became such a precious commodity for fun and surviving on the ships, liquor was the most popular item plundered. It made the men happy, that must be drunken happy.
One of the most interesting legends of the 1800s has a crew of pirates attacking and looting a ship bound for New Orleans. As they divvied up their booty they came across a crate containing a beautiful, hand-carved marble mantel from Italy. They were about to toss it overboard when one of the men read the shipping information and stopped in his tracks. The mantel was on its way to Lynchburg, Tennessee, home to Jack Daniel himself. The pirates had so much respect for his whiskey, that they repacked the mantel and paid to ship it to its rightful owner. Now that's some dedication!
All this evidence can only leave us with the conclusion that pirates more or less survived on liquor, rum being their favorite drink of choice. Liquor was a way of life for pirates. In heavy weather and mirrored calm, pirates were glorious drunkards, all the way around.