What Did Pirates Drink Out Of? Exploring the Drinking Habits of Seafaring Bandits

Ahoy matey! Have you ever wondered what pirates drank out of during their voyages across the high seas? It turns out that these seafaring bandits had a preference for their very own unique drinking vessels. From goblets made from bones to silver chalices stolen from the wealthier vessels they plundered, pirates definitely knew how to quench their thirst in style.

But it didn’t stop there. Some pirates even enjoyed drinking from human skulls, often as a way of intimidating their enemies. And let’s not forget the classic pirate drink – rum. Pirates loved their rum so much that it became their drink of choice, and they would often pour it into their stolen chalices and drink to their heart’s content.

So, the next time you find yourself daydreaming about life on the high seas, take a moment to appreciate the creativity of pirates when it came to their drinking vessels. From terrifying human skulls to elegant silver goblets, these pirates knew how to enjoy their rum in style.

Historical Overview of Pirate Drinking Habits

Pirates are often depicted as rum-swilling, drunken revelers with little regard for their health or wellbeing. While this stereotype may be somewhat exaggerated, it is true that pirates did enjoy their alcohol. However, what did pirates drink out of?

  • Grog: This drink was a popular choice among pirates and consisted of rum, water, and lime juice or sugar. It was usually served in a wooden mug called a noggin.
  • Ale and Beer: Sailors often drank beer or ale on long voyages because it was less likely to spoil than water. These drinks were served in tankards or mugs made of pewter, glass, or ceramic.
  • Wine: This was a more expensive drink and was usually reserved for officers or wealthy merchants. It was also served in glasses or goblets made of glass or silver.

While pirates did have access to a variety of drinking vessels, they often had to make do with whatever was available. Cups, bowls, and even sea shells were used on occasion. However, the most commonly used vessel was the tankard, which was often made of pewter. These tankards were sturdy and durable, making them ideal for use onboard a ship.

It’s important to note that drinking habits among pirates were not limited to alcohol. In fact, sailors often drank a concoction known as “switchel” or “swizzle” which was made from vinegar, water, and molasses. This drink was believed to have health benefits and was seen as a refreshing alternative to grog.

Drink Vessel
Grog Noggin
Ale/Beer Tankard
Wine Glass/Goblet

Overall, pirates had a wide variety of drinking options available to them. While they may not have always had access to fancy drinking vessels, they made do with what they had and enjoyed their time onboard their ships.

Types of Drinks Commonly Consumed by Pirates

The notorious pirates of the Golden Age frequently drank heavily, believing that liquor gave them courage, strength, and an advantage in ship-to-ship combat. The types of drinks commonly consumed by pirates are as follows:

  • Rum: Rum was the drink of choice for pirates. Most of the rum consumed by pirates was distilled in the Caribbean, where the sugarcane crop was the primary ingredient for rum production. It was usually consumed straight or mixed with water or lime juice. Rum was sometimes referred to as “grog.”
  • Ale: Ale was another popular drink among pirates. It was brewed by fermenting malted barley, water, and yeast. Ales were usually flat and warm, unlike the carbonated, chilled beers of today. Pirates often drank ale with a meal or to quench their thirst after a hard day’s work aboard the ship.
  • Brandy: Brandy was a luxury drink that only wealthy pirates could afford. It was made by distilling wine and aging it in oak barrels. Pirates consumed brandy as a sipping drink, in small glasses, while sitting in the captain’s quarters.

While pirates were known to consume these alcoholic beverages in enormous quantities, with rum being the most popular, they were also believed to drink non-alcoholic drinks that were brewed or distilled on board their ships.

One of the most famous non-alcoholic drinks was “switchel,” which was also referred to as “swizzle.” It was prepared by mixing water, cider vinegar, molasses, and ginger. Pirates drank switchel to quench their thirst, especially during long voyages, which lasted several months at a time or when there was a shortage of clean drinking water.

Additionally, fresh water was often in short supply on board pirate ships, which led to the consumption of alcoholic drinks since water could easily spoil. A table listing the types of drinks consumed by pirates is shown below:

Type of Drink Primary Ingredient(s) Method of Preparation
Rum Sugar cane Distilled
Ale Malted barley, water, yeast Fermented
Brandy Wine Distilled, aged in oak barrels
Switchel Cider vinegar, molasses, ginger Mixed with water

Overall, pirate beverages provided an interesting insight into the lives of the infamous buccaneers. Their drinking habits were no different from any other seafaring people of their day, and rum remains a symbol of their spirit of adventure, rebellion, and love of freedom.

The Role of Drinking in Pirate Culture

When we think of pirates, we often picture them swigging from a bottle of rum or hoisting a mug of ale. Drinking played a significant role in pirate culture, serving both practical and social purposes.

Types of Drinks Consumed by Pirates

  • Rum: Perhaps the most iconic beverage associated with pirates, rum was a staple aboard pirate ships. It was often mixed with water or flavored with lime, cloves, or other spices to make it more palatable. Some pirates also enjoyed a shot of rum as a form of medicine to ease the pain of injuries sustained during battle.
  • Ale: Ale was another popular beverage among pirates. It was brewed from malted barley, hops, and water, and had a lower alcohol content than rum. Ale was often consumed in large quantities during celebratory occasions such as victories at sea or after a successful raid on a merchant vessel.
  • Grog: Grog was a mixture of water, rum, and citrus juice. It was introduced by the British Navy in the 18th century as a way to stretch the supply of rum and prevent sailors from becoming too drunk to perform their duties. Pirates also began to adopt this practice.

Drinking and Socializing Among Pirates

Drinking was also a way for pirates to socialize and bond with one another. It was common for pirates to gather together and drink while swapping stories of their adventures at sea. Drinking together helped to strengthen the sense of camaraderie among pirates and reinforce their shared values.

At the same time, drinking could also lead to conflict and violence among pirates. Pirates who became too drunk or unruly could be punished by the captain or their fellow crew members. In some cases, fights would break out among pirates after a night of heavy drinking.

Pirate Drinking Vessels

Pirates drank from a variety of vessels, depending on what was available aboard the ship. Some pirates would drink from pewter tankards or wooden cups, while others would use seashells or coconut shells as makeshift drinking vessels. The more affluent pirates might have even brought along their own silver goblets or drinking horns.

Vessel Type Description
Pewter Tankard A heavy, metal mug with a handle.
Wooden Cup A cup made from a single piece of carved wood.
Seashell Cup A cup made from a large seashell, often polished and decorated.
Drinking Horn A horn-shaped vessel made from an animal horn, often embellished with silver or gold.

Improvised Drinking Vessels on Board Pirate Ships

When it comes to drinking vessels on pirate ships, traditional glass and ceramic cups were a rarity. Pirates had to resort to using whatever they could find on board their ship to hold their drinks. Here are some of the improvised drinking vessels that pirates commonly used:

  • Coconut shells: Pirates could easily find coconuts on tropical islands and would often use the shells as cups. They would simply hollow out the coconut and use it to hold their rum or water.
  • Clam shells: Along with coconuts, pirates would also sometimes utilize clam shells as drinking vessels. Clam shells were especially convenient for holding small amounts of liquid, like a quick shot of rum.
  • Horns: Drinking horns were commonly used by Vikings, but pirates also adopted this practice. Horns were made from the horns of different animals and were a convenient way to hold bigger amounts of liquids like ale or grog.

While many pirates would use these natural resources as their drinking vessels, other pirates would resort to using whatever they could find on board their ship. For example, they would use a cut-off piece of a bamboo stalk, an old boot, or a piece of driftwood as drinking cups.

As you can imagine, these improvised drinking vessels were not very durable and would often need to be replaced. Pirates would constantly need to find new sources to replenish their supply of drinking cups. They would have to be creative in their sourcing, often stealing cups from other ships they would plunder.

Improvised Drinking Vessel Material Used
Coconut Shells Coconut
Clam Shells Clam Shell
Horns Animal Horns
Cut-off Bamboo Stalk Bamboo
Old Boot Leather
Driftwood Wood

Overall, pirates were resourceful when it came to finding drinking vessels on their ship. While they didn’t have the luxury of traditional cups, they were able to make do with what they had available to them. Their creativity in finding new sources of cups mirrors their tenacity in navigating the seas and thriving under harsh conditions.

Drinking Games and Traditions Among Pirates

Drinking was an essential part of the pirate lifestyle. They often drank rum, which was readily available from the Caribbean islands they frequented. However, pirates didn’t have access to fancy goblets or chalices. Instead, they used whatever they could find. Here are some of the things pirates would drink out of:

  • Cups made from coconuts: Pirates would hollow out coconuts and use them as cups. Not only were they durable and plentiful, but they also gave the rum a slightly sweet taste.
  • Silver chalices: The wealthiest pirates would bring silver chalices with them on their voyages. However, they were in the minority, and most pirates had to make do with less elegant containers.
  • Clay mugs: Clay was a common material for making mugs and cups. Pirates would often steal them from settlements, trading posts, and even other ships.
  • Animal horns: Sometimes, pirates would drink from animal horns, such as those from cows, goats, or rams. This was usually a last resort, as cleaning and sanitizing them could be difficult.

In addition to drinking, pirates also enjoyed playing drinking games. These games often involved challenges that would result in one or more participants having to drink. Here are some of the popular drinking games among pirates:

  • The Ol’ One Two: This game involved two players taking turns punching each other in the arm. The first player to give up had to take a drink.
  • Pirates Dice: Each player would roll a pair of dice, and whoever had the lowest total had to take a drink.
  • Worm in the Barrel: A barrel would be filled with rum and a live worm. Players would take turns drinking from the barrel until someone found the worm. The person who found the worm had to drink the remainder of the barrel.

While these games may seem barbaric and dangerous, they were just another form of entertainment for pirates. Alcohol was often the only source of enjoyment they had, and they made the most of it.

Game Description
The Ol’ One Two Players take turns punching each other in the arm. The first one to give up takes a drink.
Pirates Dice Players roll two dice and whoever has the lowest total takes a drink.
Worm in the Barrel A barrel filled with rum and a live worm. Players take turns drinking until someone finds the worm. The finder drinks the remainder of the barrel.

Drinking games and traditions were a way for pirates to bond and have fun. These activities helped break the monotony of life at sea and gave the crew something to look forward to during long voyages. Despite the dangers and risks involved, these games continued to be popular among pirates for centuries.

The Health Effects of Heavy Drinking on Pirates

Pirates are often portrayed as heavy drinkers, guzzling down rum and other beverages aboard their ships. But what did pirates drink out of? Let’s explore the various drinking vessels used by pirates and the potential health effects of their excessive drinking habits.

  • Tankards/Mugs: Tankards and mugs were the most common drinking vessels for pirates. These vessels were typically made of pewter, pottery, or wood, and were often adorned with intricate designs and engravings. However, heavy drinking from these vessels could lead to alcohol poisoning, liver damage, and other health issues.
  • Bottles: Many pirates carried small bottles filled with alcohol, which they could easily conceal on their person. However, drinking from these bottles could lead to dehydration, which could be especially dangerous during long voyages at sea.
  • Coconuts: Pirates sometimes used hollowed-out coconuts as drinking vessels. While drinking coconut water is generally healthy, filling a coconut with rum or other alcoholic beverages could lead to serious health problems.

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the body, and pirates were no exception. Some of the potential health effects of excessive drinking for pirates included:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Liver damage
  • Dehydration
  • Mental health issues
  • Injury or death from accidents or fights while intoxicated

While pirates may have enjoyed their rum and other beverages, their heavy drinking habits could have serious consequences for their health and well-being.

Health Effect Description
Alcohol poisoning Can occur when the body has too much alcohol to process, leading to vomiting, seizures, or death.
Liver damage Heavy drinking can damage the liver over time, potentially leading to liver failure or cirrhosis.
Dehydration Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration.
Mental health issues Excessive drinking can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Injury or death from accidents or fights while intoxicated Drinking to excess can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents or injury.

Overall, while pirates may have enjoyed their drinks, their heavy drinking habits had serious health consequences. It’s important to drink in moderation and take care of your physical and mental health.

Methods of Procuring Alcohol on the High Seas

Pirates were known for their love of drinking, and they often had to resort to creative measures to procure alcohol while at sea. Here are 7 methods of procuring alcohol on the high seas:

  • Looting other ships: Pirate crews would often attack other ships and loot their cargo, including barrels of wine, rum, and other spirits.
  • Bartering: Pirates would sometimes trade stolen goods for alcohol with other seafarers they encountered.
  • Island raids: Pirates would occasionally make landfall on uninhabited islands and raid any alcohol stores they found.
  • Distillation: Some pirates would distill their own alcohol from fermented fruits and grains, creating unique and often potent blends.
  • Preserved beverages: Pirates would often bring along preserved beverages like beer and mead, which could last longer on long voyages.
  • Diplomacy: In some cases, pirates would establish relationships with friendly ports or other ships, arranging for regular deliveries of alcohol.
  • Bribery: Pirates would sometimes bribe corrupt officials or other seafarers for access to alcohol.

The Types of Drinking Vessels on Pirate Ships

Pirates drank out of a variety of drinking vessels, ranging from simple cups to elaborate goblets. Here are some of the most common types of drinking vessels on pirate ships:


Type of Drinking Vessel Description
Tankard A large, sturdy mug made from wood or pewter.
Goblet A decorative cup made from metal or glass, sometimes adorned with jewels or other embellishments.
Rum jar A small, round jar used specifically for drinking rum.
Bottle A glass or ceramic bottle used for storing and drinking wine and other spirits.
Cup A simple cup, made from metal or ceramic, often used for drinking beer and other beverages.

No matter the vessel, pirates drank their alcohol with gusto, often using drinking games and other rituals to enhance the experience.

The Relationship Between Pirates and Taverns

Pirates were known for their wild and rowdy behavior, and they often spent their free time drinking and carousing in taverns. In fact, taverns played a crucial role in the pirate lifestyle, providing a place for them to gather, socialize, and plan their raids.

  • Drinks Served in Taverns: Pirates were notorious for their love of alcohol, and taverns provided them with ample opportunities to indulge in their favorite drinks. Some of the most popular beverages served in taverns included rum, beer, wine, and punch. These drinks were often watered down and mixed with spices and other ingredients to make them more palatable.
  • Food Served in Taverns: Taverns also served food items that were easy to prepare and eat quickly. Some of the most common dishes served in pirate taverns included cheese, bread, salted meat, and pickles. These foods could be eaten on the go, making them perfect for pirates who were always on the move.
  • Bartenders and Tavern Owners: Taverns were owned and operated by people from all walks of life, including former pirates and privateers. Some of the most famous pirate tavern owners included Ching Shih, who ran an infamous pirate empire in China in the early 19th century, and Anne Bonny, who owned a tavern in the Bahamas in the late 17th century.

However, even though taverns were popular among pirates, they also posed a significant risk to their safety. Pirate hunters, law enforcement officers, and other enemies often kept tabs on known pirate hangouts, making taverns a dangerous place to be. Despite these risks, pirates continued to frequent taverns, and many of these establishments remain popular tourist attractions today.

In conclusion, pirates and taverns had a close and complex relationship, with these establishments serving as both a haven and a danger to pirates. Even today, the legacy of pirate taverns and their role in pirate history continues to fascinate and captivate people around the world.

Pirate Taverns Location Famous Visitors
The Old Pirate House Savannah, Georgia, USA Blackbeard, Captain Kidd
The Jolly Roger Inn and Pier North Carolina, USA Blackbeard, Calico Jack Rackham
The Blackbeard’s Lodge Ocracoke, North Carolina, USA Blackbeard


Ferriss, T. (2010). The 4-Hour Work Week. Harmony Books.

Konstam, A. (2019). Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas. Crown Publishing Group.

Pirates and Privateers. (n.d.). Pirate Havens: Pirate Taverns. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.cindyvallar.com/taverns.html

Famous Pirates Who Were Known to Drink Heavily

One of the most common stereotypes associated with pirates is their love of alcohol. In fact, many pirates were known to drink heavily, with some even being infamous for their alcohol consumption. Here are some famous pirates who were known for their love of drinking:

  • Edward Teach (Blackbeard) – Blackbeard was known to fill his beard with lit fuses to intimidate his enemies. He was also known for his love of rum, often drinking large quantities of it before battle.
  • William Kidd (Captain Kidd) – Captain Kidd was known for his love of wine and often had a supply of it on his ship. In fact, it was said that he had a large supply of wine onboard when he was arrested.
  • Samuel Bellamy (Black Sam) – Black Sam was known for his love of brandy and was often drunk during battles. He once said, “I am a free prince, and have as much authority to make war on the whole world as he who has a hundred sail of ships at sea and an army of 100,000 men in the field; and this my conscience tells me.”

While these are just a few examples, it’s clear that alcohol played a significant role in the lives of many pirates. In fact, the amount of alcohol consumed on board a pirate ship was often staggering. According to some accounts, pirates could consume up to four gallons of rum a day!

Drink Alcohol Content
Rum 40-80%
Brandy 35-60%
Wine 8-15%

It’s important to remember, however, that not all pirates were heavy drinkers. While alcohol was certainly a part of pirate life, it was not the defining characteristic of all pirates. Nevertheless, the stereotype persists, and the image of a drunken pirate stumbling around a ship with a bottle of rum in hand remains entrenched in popular culture.

The Legacy of Pirate Drinking Habits in Pop Culture

The popular image of pirates is one that often involves a lot of drinking and debauchery, and it is not without merit. Pirates were known to enjoy their alcoholic beverages, and they often did so in a wide variety of containers.

  • Rum was a popular drink among pirates, and they often drank it straight or mixed it with water, lime juice, or sugar. They sometimes stored rum in barrels, but it was also common for them to drink from mugs or pewter tankards.
  • Wine and beer were also popular among pirates, especially when they could not find rum. These drinks were usually consumed from bottles or wooden tankards.
  • Some pirates even dabbled in more exotic drinks like palm wine, which is made from the sap of certain palm trees, or arrack, which is a distilled spirit from Southeast Asia.

While the accurate historical details of pirate drinking habits may be lost to time, the legacy of these habits can be seen in many aspects of pop culture today.

For example, the classic image of a pirate drinking from a mug or tankard is ubiquitous in movies, television shows, and even theme parks. Pirates are also often portrayed as rowdy and drunk, which is true to their historical reputation as heavy drinkers.

Additionally, the pirate-themed bars and restaurants that have popped up in recent years often feature elaborate cocktails served in unique containers like skull-shaped glasses or fancy tropical-themed cups. These drinks may not be historically accurate, but they certainly capture the spirit of pirate culture.

Beverage Container
Rum Barrels, mugs, pewter tankards
Wine and Beer Bottles, wooden tankards
Palm Wine Calabashes (gourds)
Arrack Jugs, glasses

Overall, while we may never know exactly how pirates drank and what they drank out of, their legacy lives on in the popular perception of them as heavy drinkers who enjoyed their libations in unique and interesting containers.

What Did Pirates Drink Out Of: FAQs

Q: What did pirates drink out of?

A: Pirates drank out of a variety of containers including wooden tankards, pewter vessels, and earthenware cups.

Q: Did pirates use glass to drink from?

A: While glass was available during the pirate era, it was fragile and easily breakable on a ship. Therefore, pirates mainly used non-glass drinking containers.

Q: What about metal cups or mugs?

A: Yes, pirates also used metal cups and mugs, particularly pewter. Although, these vessels were expensive and typically only owned by wealthy pirates.

Q: Did pirates use straw or other utensils?

A: Straw was not commonly used during the pirate era, but some pirates may have used spoons or other utensils to consume their drinks.

Q: What did pirates drink besides alcohol?

A: Water was the main beverage on a ship, although it was often contaminated. Tea, coffee, and cocoa were also consumed by some pirates, as well as alcoholic beverages like rum.

Q: Were there any special drinking rituals among pirates?

A: Yes, some pirates had a drinking ritual called “drinking the grog.” This involved mixing rum with water or beer and passing it around the crew to drink.

Q: How did pirates acquire drinking vessels?

A: Pirates often stole drinking vessels from other ships or acquired them through trade. Some vessels were also made by members of the crew with the skills to do so.

Closing Thoughts

Now you know what pirates drank out of! They primarily used wooden, pewter, and earthenware vessels and typically did not use glass. Pirates drank a variety of beverages besides alcohol, and some had special drinking rituals. We hope you enjoyed learning more about pirate drinking habits and will be back soon for more exciting insights!