A Conversation for Pusser's Rum
BuskingBob Started conversation Jul 21, 2000
At the time that it ended in 1970, the daily tot was equivalent in volume to about 3 pub measures of booze; with its extra strength this would put you way over the top for the breathaliser. Effectively you were OK to maintain very expensive aircaraft, drive big ships, etc in a state of befuddlement that debarred you from driving a car. I believe that at some time in the dark past the rum ration was probably about half a pint undiluted.
I was always taught that the reason for watering it down was so that the sailors couldn't save it up for a rainy day; whether this was the reason or not I can confirm that the rum /water mix tasted awful after a few hours of it being mixed.
There is a connection between rum in the Royal Navy and a savage murder - see link http://altonrotary.hants.org.uk/sfadams.html. Although the term "fanny" could be applied to any large metal container used for carrying food/drink, the term was most often used for the container that the rum was issued to sailors in. This was invariably called a Rum Fanny.
BuskingBob Posted Jul 21, 2000
Rats! the link I quoted doesn't seem to work from here - there is a poem about the event at http://www.headley1.demon.co.uk/fanny.htm
If you search on "Sweet Fanny Adams" and Alton, you should get something about the murder.
Barney's Bucksaws Posted Jul 21, 2000
Well, well, well - perhaps a pair of Navy types???
Here in Canada, our sailors also received a "tot", and were required to either drink it down, or mix it, in front of the purser. Each sailor had his personal mug - usually with his ship's crest on it. I have one that came from HMCS Bonaventure - long ago washed out - after some years of use - it, frankly, smelled.
Being a WREN, I wasn't entitled, so the only experience I have with Pusser Rum was rum sauce for our Christmas Duff at the communication station where I served. Someone aboard owed our CO a favour, so he got a bottle to make our sauce. Great stuff!!
Potholer Posted Jul 22, 2000
As a handy alternative to the complex method of grog preparation, a warming drink can be made using boling water, decent dilute-to taste lemon squash (sugar based, not low calorie), and good dark rum, mixed in a pint glass.
It's remarkably easy to sit down for a long winter evening with a friend, a pretty full bottle of rum, and a bottle of squash, and end the evening with two empty bottles, yet without straying beyond the glowingly drunk 'You're my best mate, you are' phase of intoxication.
Gavroche Posted Jul 23, 2000
I wish to apologize for giving the Royal Navy the benefit of the doubt on the amount of rum in a daily tot. My only sources of knowledge were information gathered from several trips to the BVI and a few websites I found. I realize now I should have sought some more input on this entry.
Perhaps the rum *was* the major cause of the collapse of the British Empire. (A reference to a pitiful attempt at humour which only appears in the original entry as it was edited out for the official entry)
I think I need to fix myself a drink...unfortunately, I am almost out of my supply, and I won't be returning to the BVI for another 6 months. *sigh*
Kes Posted Jul 24, 2000
For naval historians - here's the etymology of Grog:
In 1740, Admiral Edward Vernon, tired of watching sailors drink their tot of rum and then turn all useless, issued standing orders that the "ranks" were to have their rum ration diluted with water. (You can imagine how popular this was!).
The said Admiral was noted because he had his uniform coat made from a blend of silk, mohair and wool (both warm and "flashy" looking). That material was known as "grogram" (no, I don't know why), and the Admiral was known as "Old Grogram" or "Old Grog". Hence his hated drink acquired the same name.
Barney's Bucksaws Posted Jul 26, 2000
Never heard that explanation, but it sounds about right, for a Naval tradition. The origin of the word Pusser is somewhere lost, but it came to mean anything belonging to the Navy. Hence - Pusser Rum (grog) Pusser Scran (galley food) or a Pusser - a sailor.
BuskingBob Posted Jul 29, 2000
Years ago I was told that the Purser on the ship controlled the ship's "purse" - hence everything belonged to the Purser. This was corrupted by sailors to Pusser.
Just a thought - could this be related to Bursar?
Barney's Bucksaws Posted Jul 30, 2000
Sounds like it could. Way back when written English was developing, sound was more important than consistant spelling, and dialect accounts for a lot of the odd spellings we see today - e.g. family names and all their variables. So I'd think Purser, Pusser, and Burser are all pretty much the same thing. Don't forget, too, that in the very early days of the British Navy, most Salts were illiterate.
Lanc - GURU and ACE Posted Aug 29, 2000
Seems that all those that take of Pussers rum missed why the old navy drank it. Back in the 1700's there seems to be a lot of sickness associated with long sea voyages. Most debilitating diseases came from vitamin deficency and bad water. There are no supermarkets for fresh vegies and fruits on 2 to 4 month voyages. Once the Carribean was found and utilized for it's great shugarcane growing capabilities a very strong dark rum could be produced for the Navy. It was strong to make it desernable from civilian drinking rums (black market) and to mask the mixer. 2 to 10 parts water were added and flavor was still there. It hid the taste of black/stagnent water the sailors sometimes had to endure. There were no chlorine tabs in those days. It also killed the mosquito larva and alge in the water kegs. Lime juice was also added to provide vitimine C, to prevent scurvey. Remember the term "Limey". The Royal Navy provided limes to the sailors to prevent scurvey. Plus it even tasted adaquate with some salt water added. So the Pursers rum became Pussers and the tradition for many years was born. Some people even now a days prefer the strong rum flavor to typical rums.
I hope this puts Pussers in a historical perspective. And I admit it does taste good with lots of mix..
BuskingBob Posted Aug 30, 2000
In days of yore the British tar also had something like a gallon of beer a day - the hops and sugar in the beer kept it from going stale as quickly as ordinary water. I suspect that the powers that be were quite happy for the sailors to be slightly drunk, it kept them happier in the squalid living conditions. (similarly, many authorities turn a blind eye to the use of drugs in prisons for the same reason!)
Barney's Bucksaws Posted Sep 1, 2000
My, how the Navy's changed!! I have a nephew who's a Leading Seaman on a Canadian ship, and, although drinking is certainly allowed, drunkenness is frowned upon. They have their messes aboard, but anyone who tends to drink too much too often is watched closely, and a career could be ruined quickly.
Gilgamesh of Uruk Posted Aug 19, 2003
"Old Grog" was so named because he wore a boat cloak of grogram cloth. The idea of watering the rum down was not to stop the sailors getting drunk - that wouldn't work as they would be getting just the same amount of alcohol - but to stop them saving up their "bubbly" for special occasions (watered rum doesn't keep well). The pipe "Up Spirits", which indicated that the rum ration was about to be issued, was always greeted with the rejoinder "Stand fast the Holy Spirit" by one of the more senior ratings. The rum ration in small ships was always served as "neaters" - undiluted, and the ration was always used as currency on board - for example, to pay someone for swapping duty, and there were definite tarrifs - lighters", "sippers", "gulpers" or the whole tot - according to what the favour was. When it was abolished, Admiral leFanu acquired the nickname "dry ginger", from its abolition and his red hair. BTW - lime juice was only adopted in extremis after the fall of Sicily - up till then, the much more effective lemon juice was the antiscorbutic of choice for the Andrew.
Kes Posted Aug 19, 2003
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: BuskingBob (Jul 21, 2000)
- 2: BuskingBob (Jul 21, 2000)
- 3: Barney's Bucksaws (Jul 21, 2000)
- 4: Potholer (Jul 22, 2000)
- 5: Gavroche (Jul 23, 2000)
- 6: Kes (Jul 24, 2000)
- 7: Barney's Bucksaws (Jul 26, 2000)
- 8: BuskingBob (Jul 29, 2000)
- 9: Barney's Bucksaws (Jul 30, 2000)
- 10: Lanc - GURU and ACE (Aug 29, 2000)
- 11: BuskingBob (Aug 30, 2000)
- 12: Barney's Bucksaws (Sep 1, 2000)
- 13: Gilgamesh of Uruk (Aug 19, 2003)
- 14: Kes (Aug 19, 2003)