Did every pirate drink a lot of rum as is suggested by a lot of movies and cartoons?
Pirates did drink a considerable amount of rum during the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly in the Caribbean where it was invented. Pirates spent an extensive amount of time on board ships and when water is stored in barrels for extended amounts of time it gets an extremely unpleasant taste and can often become filled with bacteria and cause disease. This water was added to rum to both improve the taste and to aid in killing a small
percentage of the bacteria. Also, citrus juice was often added to rum to improve the taste and had the added effect of preventing scurvy which was a common condition among pirates and sailors. Most pirates and sailors were given a daily ration of rum, known as a “tot”, and had to stretch it out over the course of the day, but often this “tot” could be quite a considerable amount, with some rations being up to a pint a day. In this era, it must be remembered that safe drinking water was hard to come by, and it was very common for people to catch diseases from this water, such as cholera.
To prevent this, most people drank some form of alcohol, mainly beer, which was much safer to drink but had the effect of intoxicating people. This was a common aspect of daily life in the world at this time, and in Europe some judicial courts actually had to introduce new laws to counteract the problem of lawyers and judges being too drunk to do their job. Most courts in this time would be held before midday in an effort to ensure that people were as sober as possible during the proceedings.