Tiki Tech #5 – Navy Grog

If you haven’t been able to tell, when I take interest in something I like to dig in deep and nerd out on is as much as I can. I get it honestly from my dad, but instead of World War II and Being Great like him my inclinations lean more towards [checks notes]. . . alcoholism. Hmm.

This week, we’re making a variation on one of tiki’s progenitors: grog. Back in the 1600’s, it should not shock you to learn that sailing across the Atlantic wasn’t a great time. Water tended to be unsafe to drink and conditions were miserable, so rations of alcohol were usually employed to raise morale and hydrate sailors (as we all know, hydration is key). However, the types of booze that the British were used to consuming were tough to produce on our side of the pond at that time, so before long the British Navy turned to the sugar based rum as the libation of choice. While the rum surely did the trick, captaining a ship crewed by a horde of drunken sailors didn’t do much to improve the overall situation. So it was in 1740 that British Admiral Edward “Old Grogram” Vernon came up with a solution: sailors would have their rum cut with water, and they were allowed to substitute some of their salt & bread for sugar and limes to improve the taste of the rum while also receiving Vitamin C to fight scurvy, the leading cause of death among the sailors. And thus “grog,” named after Old Grog himself, was born (you can read more about it here).

If you want a classic grog, Smuggler’s Cove outlines the recipe as such:

1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce demerara/simple syrup
2 ounce rum (either black or blended)

While it’s a good simple cocktail, I’m more partial to Navy Grog, favored by the likes of Frank Sinatra (neat!) and President Nixon (much less neat!). Originally invented by Donn Beach in the 1940’s, Navy Grog was intended as a more “masculine” drink to appeal to male guests at his bar that may be opposed to orchids hanging off the sides of their glass. Trader Vic also made a (in)famous version that Nixon is alleged to have drank after hours during the Watergate trial, and the strength of which was even testified to in a murder trial. Tiki! It’s sordid!


(Adapted from this recipe)

1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce gold rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce grapefruit juice
1 ounce honey syrup*
2 ounces seltzer or Topo Chico (preferably grapefuit)

Put everything except the Topo Chico into a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Pour into a glass with ice, top with the Topo

*Honey syrup is just a 1:1 mix of honey and water. If you want to make a larger batch like the other syrups, put the ratio in a saucepan and heat up until mixed (don’t boil). If you want to just do a little, but 1/2 ounce honey & 1/2 ounce water in a small container in the microwave and heat on bursts, mixing intermittently. Or just sub out the honey for your simple syrup. Putting straight honey in won’t work, trust me.


I haven’t decided!


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