By Patrick Evans-Hylton 

Although the 45th Annual Norfolk Harborfest: Music, Food & Maritime Festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, the iconic festival will live in spirit this year through a series of digital content throughout the June 11-13 weekend. For more on Norfolk Festevents, visit 

Celebrate the rich history of region by enjoying a small gathering of friends in the backyard for eats (try our Coastal Crab Dip or Fried Oyster Po’ Boys) and imbibes. Our NFK Sea Dog Grog is a perfect drink for the occasion. 

Rum was already a well-established drink in the New World by the end of the 17th century, and throughout Virginia and the other colonies, and across the Caribbean, it was often the beverage of choice. In 1655, after England conquered Jamaica, rum was distributed to sailors as part of their rations. 

Of note: it was around the turn of the 17th century that the phrase “sea dog” first came into use and was a name that particularly was applied to English adventurers and buccaneers. By 1840 it was described as “old seaman, sailor who has been long afloat.” 

Grog, made with rum, water, and other ingredients, comes from the nickname for British Admiral Vernon who, in 1740, cut sailor’s daily ration of rum with water while in command in the West Indies. So why was he called Old Grog? Vernon was noted for wearing a coat make of grogram cloth. Groggy means sleepy, such as when too much grog is consumed.

Dispensing grog to sailors became a tradition that transferred to the Continental Navy and to the U. S. Navy as well. 

Our NFK Sea Dog Grog honors the original quaff with some updated ingredients and method for the modern-day Sea Dog. 

Anchors aweigh.

This recipe, titled “Grog”  comes from my book, “Virginia Distilled: Four Centuries of Drinking in the Old Dominion.” The book will be released in Autumn, 2021; for more information including recipes visit 


Honey Syrup Ingredients

1 cup honey

1 cup water

Cocktail Ingredients

1-1/2 ounces dark or spiced rum

1-1/2 ounces white rum

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce honey syrup

Soda water

Lime wedge


To make the honey syrup. In a small saucepan add honey and water and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently until honey has dissolved. Remove from stove and cool. Add to a sealable glass jar and refrigerate until use, up to 1 month.

To make the cocktail. In a shaker filled with ice, add dark rum, white rum, lime juice and honey syrup, cover, and shake vigorously. Strain into a tall glass with ice and fill with soda water. Garnish with lime wedge.

Yields 1 cocktail


Patrick Evans-Hylton is Norfolk Festevents’ culinary advisor, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef and an award-winning food journalist covering tasty trends since 1995 in print, broadcast and electronic media. He is publisher of 

Join the Virginia Eats + Drinks Facebook group at 

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