Pirate Food and Drink


The main focus of this session is making a fun drink. The writing comes as a way to record the recipe and through follow-on fun activities like writing an advert to sell their invention. This is a literacy lesson that doesn’t feel like one! Children will develop their confidence in writing as part of a bigger, more practical and fun task.



The following activities are based on the food and drink pirates had on board their long journeys on the sea as well as their feasting in ports. The main part is creating their own version of grog. There are a variety of writing options to do alongside and after the task. Children can also find out about what food pirates ate and do a piece of writing based on their research. Children can just do the drink section or the food section, or they could do both.


What you need

  • Ingredients for inventing grog
  • Paper and pen to note the recipes and for follow on activities
  • Access to information about pirate food (some basic information is provided in the activity)


What to do

  • Step 1: Make pirate grog
  • Step 2: Grog descriptive writing challenge
  • Step 3: Pirate food research and writing ideas


Step 1: Make pirate grog

Read through the following informations, instructions, ideas and example with children. Help them as much as required to create their own pirate grog and to write up the recipe afterwards.

What is grog?

Pirates are well known for their love of rum. Grog was originally rum diluted with water and later had lemon/lime and sugar added. In this activity you can make your own (non-alcoholic) grog!

How to make your own grog

  1. Replace the rum with cold decaffeinated tea or a herbal or fruit tea like Rooibos for an iced tea drink. You could also use ginger ale, lemonade or soda water.
  2. Use some juice from a lemon, lime or some other citrus fruit such as grapefruit.
  3. Add a small amount of sugar (not too much!)
  4. You can add water to your grog according to taste, depending on how much water you used to make the tea etc.
  5. Experiment with spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

Write the ingredients you will use and instructions of how to make it. See the example recipe below for how to lay it out.


If you want to experiment with different recipes:

  • Try different amounts/ratios of each ingredient or add some others of your own.
  • Keep a record as you go of how each one tasted.
  • Write, audio-record or video your thoughts, then go back over your notes and decide which was your best one. Find some willing volunteers to try them and give their opinions too.

When you have created your grog, you will have your own secret family recipe for the best grog on the seven seas! Write out the recipe in your best handwriting or typed on a computer. Start with a list of ingredients (include quantities/measurements). Then write out the method in clear, easy to follow steps. At the end, include advice for how to serve it and the best places and times to drink it. Use things you have found out about pirates and their phrases to make your recipe sound piratey!



Recipe for Golden Grog: the greatest drink on the seven seas
Makes 1 tankard for a thirsty pirate


  • 200ml cold rooibos tea
  • Juice from half an orange
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


  1. Put a rooibos tea bag in a measuring cup/jug. Add 200ml boiling water (an adult may need to help with this). Allow to cool fully.
  2. Meanwhile squeeze the juice from half an orange. (Make sure none of those scurvy pips get in!)
  3. Once the tea has cooled, add the orange juice.
  4. Cut the lemon in half, grab one half with ye best cutlass-holding hand and squeeze it so a few drops go it. Add more later if ye wish.
  5. Stir in a bit of the sugar at a time until it is as sweet as ye want it.

Best enjoyed ice cold and watching a good plank-walking!


Step 2: Grog descriptive writing challenge

Go through the following guide to writing a persuasive and descriptive advert for their grog.

  • Think about descriptions for how your grog tastes. If you had other people help to judge your grog(s), use their comments to help you too.
  • Use these descriptions to write a sentence persuading people to choose your special grog from a menu or list of grog recipes they have found.
  • Make an advert for your grog to be shown in a pirate magazine or television channel.
  • Use lots of over the top positive descriptions like:
    The best grog in the Caribbean!
    You’ll walk off a plank for a taste of this wonderful grog!
    Be the captain’s best mate by making him this amazing grog!


Step 3: Pirate food research and writing activities

Read the following information with children. They then can choose to do their own follow-up research and use what they find out in a piece of creative writing.

Pirate food

Keeping food fresh on the sea was difficult. At the start of a journey pirates would have had fresh food on board, but as the journey went on, they would be left with stale biscuits called tack biscuits that were often crawling with weevils. They would also have meat left that had been preserved in salt, but it had often become so tough that the pirates would use it to replace buttons on their clothes!


Writing ideas

Children do their own research to find out more about pirate food, including when they were able to call in at a port where they could feast on fresh food and stock up.
They can record what they find out as a poster, information sheet or leaflet.
Children can use this information to write a piece of fiction about pirate life. This could be imagined diary entries, a story, or a poem.
They could also use the information to write questions in a pirate quiz.