A Pirate’s Life For Me

Say what you will about pirates – they were rapists, they’re not popular anymore, they haven’t had a winning season since George H.W. Bush was in office – but those bandana-wearing mofo’s knew how to drink. No group of people before or since has ever come close to reaching their prodigious outputs of drunkenness. Devil Bless You, Sirs!

Pirate drinking was an everyday part of life. It helped socialize newcomers, made long stretches of time out at sea bearable and could be used much in the same way that drinking games are used today (“Argh! Aces and Eights! You owe me three drinks!”). Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart) was himself a teetotaler, and tried to get his crew to relinquish some of their drunken revelry. When his punishments – whipping, keelhauling, fining them each time they drunkenly said “Argh!” – completely failed to control their behavior, he broke down with the rule “drinking to be allowed on the foredeck only”. Kinda like how your parents gave up trying to stop you from drinking in the 7th grade.

All this was, in part, based on necessity. Clean drinking water wasn’t always available in ports. Liquor, on the other hand, was one of the few things on board a ship that never spoiled. It could be traded, consumed, used for bribes, put to medicinal ends, and also mixed with flame to make primitive Molotov cocktails. When mixed with water (the infamous “Grog”), it killed most germs, hydrated and gave a little bit of a buzz. Not bad for a foul-smelling, foul-tasting, evil-inducing beverage.

So, in the spirit of these fine, upstanding individuals, I hereby name this upcoming week “Pirate Drinking Week”. To get you started off, here are some pirate drinks, some songs, and some games. Enjoy, ye mateys, else you wind up in Ol’ Roger’s bosom fer yer scallywagin’ ways! Pirates! ‘Cuz when was the last time you saw a Ninja with wenches?



1 Part Rum
1 Part Water

Mix. Drink as much as you can stand.

    Thames Water

1 Part Rum
1 Part Whiskey

Mix. Drink as much as you can stand.

    Salutin’ Day

1 Part Rum
1 Part Rum

Don’t bother mixing. Just chug from the bottle.


    Whiskey Johnny

Whiskey is the life of man Always was since the world began
Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
John rise her up from down below Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go John rise her up from down below
Whiskey here, whiskey there Whiskey almost everywhere
Whiskey up and whiskey down Whiskey all around the town
Whiskey killed me poor old dad Whiskey drove me mother mad
(Finish by mumbling incoherently.)

    Traditional Toast

(Take one healthy swig after every line)

One for me mum
One for me brud*
One for me mates
An’ one for me gut!

*Brother, slang for the friend one would have on voyages ashore (like a buddy system, each would hopefully make sure that neither didn’t into TOO much trouble that would get them hung by a judge, shot by another pirate, or into bed with an obvious disease-pot/hag/man).

    The Drinking Chant

Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!
Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!
Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!
(Continue until someone finishes a pint of rum)



Two-Four-player game. Four-Sixteen dice (depending on amount of players). Everyone gets two dice and a cup. Roll the dice in the cup, and then slam it on the table with a hearty “HAH!” Glance at your cards, but don’t let the other players see. One player (determined by chance) starts off, either stating a number on one of his dice or bluffing. The player to his right must go higher than that, either by saying a higher number on one of his dice, moving up the total of his two dice, or bluffing. Anyone at any point can call a bluff on a single player. If it turns out the player was bluffing, then he pays the total of his bluff (or, in our culture, drinks the total). If he was not bluffing, the caller(s) must drink his total. Play continues until all players are broke and/or comatose.

    Bounding Main

Up to Ten Players, with a deck of 54 cards (52, plus two jokers). Bet pieces o’ eight (if you have ’em), or drinks if you don’t. Dealer flips the first card. Second player bets higher or lower for the next card, which the dealer flips. If he bets right, he wins one from each other player. If not, he puts two in the pot. The third player bets higher or lower than the second player’s card and so on. If at any point, someone pulls a joker, he wins what’s in the pot.

To play with drinks, simply replace pieces o’ eight with coins that represent “Drink One, Asshole” which can be given out at any point in the proceedings.

    The Devil’s Way

Two-player game. One person drinks, then the other. Continue in this manner. The winner is declared when the other vomits, passes out and dies.

– Steele


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