101 years ago, under the oppression of war, a new drinking tradition was born: the breakfast cocktail of rum and milk. Commemorating this tradition each year on the 25th day of April, this spirit of the ANZAC has quite the rarely-told history, which we share here to honour those we remember on Anzac Day.
We should start by saying, this cocktail of sorts is a once-a-year tradition for a reason… it ain’t tasty! For starters, rum actually curdles the milk, but the upside is it needs to be consumed fast. Raise your glass and get it in there quick!
A little background…
Rum and milk was the beverage provided to soldiers at first light in preparation for battle. It was customary to add a tipple of rum to their cup of breakfast milk to help the soldiers shake off some nerves, or as one veteran digger put it, “give ’em a touch of courage”.
The choice of (dark) rum was attributed to it being the easiest to keep over long journeys, and most accessible. Condensed milk was of the more available style of milk in those times, with its (let’s call it) better shelf life, and because of the high sugar content, which helped to keep energy levels high. A tube of this sweet stuff was provided in the food rations for the troops.
Commemorated nowadays during a Gunfire Breakfast at Anzac services, particularly at your local RSL, the cocktail is served as either rum and milk, or rum and coffee for those of us who aren’t seasoned to the 4am wake-up.
So why do we still drink this stuff? We drink it for those who drank it for us.
Lest we forget.
– Please drink responsibly this Anzac Day long weekend.