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Bumpo
Drinks

(or Bumbo, Bombo, Bumboo)

Spirits, customarily rum, with water, sugar and a sweet spice such as nutmeg or cinnamon. The traditional drink of English merchantmen, in contrast to the simple 'grog' of the Royal Navy.

Known at least since a reference in Tobias Smollett's 'The adventures of Roderick Random' of 1748; "He and his messmates were making merry round a table well stored with bumbo and wine."

Bell's 'Notes and queries' of 1849 quotes a Nothumberland song as having the verse;
The pitmen and the keelmen trim,
They drink bumbo made from gin,
And for to dance they do begin
To the tune of "Elsie Marley", honey.

It was also popular in the American Colonies - "honest" George Washington is known to have purchased 160 gallons of rum to make bumpo to help "encourage" voters to elect him to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758.


British Soldier George Washington
(Colonel of the Virginia Regiment of His Majesty's Colony
and later a President of the United States of America)
Portrait by Charles Willson Peale



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