What was Australia's First Favourite Drink?

Before cans of VB or sacks of Goon

We’ve always been a boozy nation. It’s built into our name.

The name Sydney is derivative from Saint Denis the Patron Saint of Feasting. Denis was also known as Dionysius, who, as we know was the loosest god on Mount Olympus- the god of wine, wild orgies and drunkenness.

Naturally, our very first drink was rum.

And we’ve never looked back.

First distilled by the African slaves working in Jamaica, Rum was the drink of choice for the Pirates of Caribbean. They used the dark liquor to make an awful cocktail called 'Bumbo' which consisted of rum, water, sugar and a pinch of nutmeg. Eventually, the rum stolen from Jamaica by the pirates was stolen from the pirates by the British navy, and from that day on, those very thirsty British sailors fell in love with the sweet liquor and demanded a rum ration from the Admiralty.

But British sailors much like all seafaring officers loved the drop. And by 1740 the Admiralty responded to the drunkenness of the British sailors by diluting their rum with water. This terrifying mixture became known as “grog.” A term still commonly used in Australia today.

Because New South Wales was a colony run by sailors, Australia’s love of Rum was a pretty sure thing.

…much intoxication was the consequence. Several settlers, breaking out from the restraint to which they had been subject, conducted themselves with greatest impropriety, destroying stock, trampling on and injuring their crops in the ground, and destroying each other’s property. (David Collins)

The sailors sold marked up rum to settlers and convicts alike. Eventually importing stills to make their own alcohol and shutting down any settler’s personal moonshine. David Collins observed that the settlers preferred swapping labour for liquor instead of currency, clothes or food.

A Spaniard called Alexandro Malaspina visited Sydney in the early days and was astounded by the colony’s drunkenness (not much has changed) remarking on how many nude drunks wanted to play cards with him.

Not much has changed in Australia; we are still a country of pirate booze and pirate bars.

So what do you do with a drunken sailor?

Send them to Australia apparently..

Header: Wikipediacommons

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