Errol Flynn swashbuckles in the classic pirate flick “Captain Blood”
Finally, pirates. Where would any talk of drink and the high seas be without a discourse on buccaneers?
While the Royal Navy had grog, pirates had bumbo – which used less water (hence the reason it was more popular), nor did it have any citrus in as pirates had access to more fresh fruit and vegetables as their voyages were shorter and thus they suffered less from scurvy.
Edward Teach (Blackbeard), Ann Bonny, Mary Read, Long John Silver, Captain Blood, Henry Every, Bartholemew Roberts, William Kidd, John “Calico Jack” Rackham, the names of pirates real and fictitious is so evocative and the stories so wild it’s hard to know where to begin.
But perhaps as Captain Morgan remains one of the biggest rum brands in the world, a little look at its namesake is in order.
Diageo’s brand is named after the Welsh-born Henry Morgan, later an admiral in the Royal Navy, knighted by the king and the terror of the Spanish Main if ever there was one.
Morgan was born into a relatively prominent family in Monmouthshire in about 1635, but there is very little record of him until he turns up in Barbados in 1655 and then Jamaica in 1658 determined to raise himself up to “fame and fortune by his valour”.
His uncle, Edward Morgan, was lieutenant-governor of Jamaica after Charles II’s restoration and Henry married his daughter (his own cousin) in around 1660.
In 1663 he is thought to have commanded a ship under another privateer, Christopher Myngs.
In due course he took command of a fleet that had been issued with a letter of marque by the new governor of Jamaica which gave him permission to raid the king’s enemies, in effect, with impunity.
His most famous escapade is probably the capture of Porto Bello in Panama, at the time one of the most important Spanish cities in the New World.
Another attack on Panama in 1671 led to his arrest as a peace treaty had been signed between England and Spain in 1670.
Hauled back to London Morgan spoke in his own defence and claimed (perhaps truthfully) that he had had no knowledge of the peace.
The court evidently believed him and he was knighted in 1674 and returned to Jamaica as lieutenant-governor in 1675.
However, he fell out of favour with Charles in the 1680s and, once replaced by a political rival, reverted increasingly to the bottle, gaining a reputation for drunkenness and bawdy behaviour.
He died in 1688 and his grave in Palisadoes cemetery near Kingston was lost to the sea during the massive earthquake that struck Jamaica in 1692.
Diageo may claim that his name is merely meant to be evocative of life on the high seas but they also seem have taken some liberties with his appearance.
As imagined by Diageo
As he really was
Like grog, recipes for bumbo exist to this day. A simple one would be:
Two ounces of rum
One ounce of water
Two sugar cubes
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Mix and serve, no ice