What to Drink on Black Tot Day: Grog

Black Tot Day is commemorated on 31 July, the day the Royal Navy abolished the daily rum ration given to sailors.

Black Tot Day

Known as the “tot”, the rum ration consisted of 70 ml of 54.6% ABV rum, 1/8th of an imperial pint, given out to sailors daily at midday. After 300 years, when the Royal Naval tradition came to an end in 1970, at the last call of “Up Spirits!”, sailors wore black arm bands as they were given their last ration of rum and mock funerals with a shrouded coffin took place. The day became know as Black Tot Day.

The ration was originally beer, not rum, given to sailors to boost morale. Since beer spoilt easily during long voyages, it was substituted with rum which was originally drunk neat.

On August 21 1740, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, known as “Old Grog” for the waterproof grogram cloak he wore, decreed that the ration be diluted with water,

the daily allowance of half a pint a man is to be mixed with a quart of water

and sailors could add sugar and lime to make the drink more palatable, the latter as a means of preventing scurvy. And the Grog was born.

Today’s Grog cocktail is far removed from what sailors drank at the time. Below is our take on the Grog, sweetened with demerara simple syrup which lends a dark colour to the drink with notes of caramel and toffee.

Grog Recipe for Black Tot Day


  • 60 ml dark rum, preferably navy strength
  • 15 ml demerara simple syrup (1:1)
  • 15 ml fresh lime juice
  • 50 ml water

Glassware: short glass
Garnish: lime wedge


To make the demerara simple syrup, follow the same instructions for making simple syrup substituting demerara sugar for white sugar.

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a short glass and top with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

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What to Drink on Black Tot Day: Grog was last modified: July 31st, 2017 by Corinne Mossati
Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of Cocktails & Bars and popular online magazine Gourmantic. She is named in the Australian Bartender Magazine Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy who judges the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions. Read the full bio here.