The original Navy rum ration began unofficially in
1655 when the daily liquor ration for serving sailors
was switched from brandy to rum. The change was
officially recognised in Naval regulations in 1731, and
in 1750 Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon of the West
Indies fleet issued a General Order establishing the
daily rum ration.
It was Vernon who insisted that the rum should be
watered down and served with lime, the resultant
brew being called 'grog' after Vernon's nickname,
Old Grog, which derived from the heavy
grogram-cloth overcoat he wore.
However, by the 1950s, concerns were being raised
about the rum ration's suitability for the complex
equipment on modern warships. The writing was on
the wall for the daily tot and in 1970 on 31st July the
curtain fell on this centuries-old tradition and Black
Tot Day was born.
Naturally, the sailors were upset at losing their tot of
free rum. Many marked the occasion with farewell
events including mock funerals and even the
ceremonial pouring of their last tot into the sea.
But the story doesn't end there.