What did Ancient Romans drink?

I’ve written about Ancient Romans and their eating habits with things like stuffed dates and a disdain for eating butter. But what did they drink? Let’s look at what the internet says!

  • Corinium Museum mentions a drink called “posca” (not to be confused with the pens), a beverage made from diluted vinegar and mainly drunk by soldiers and enslaved people. This was in comparison to the wines consumed copiously by the elite. It’s believed that Jesus was given this drink while he was on the cross.
  • Although the Romans thought of beer as a barbarian drink, that didn’t stop Roman Emperor Julian (361–363) from writing a poem “extolling the virtues of wine as a nectar while noting that beer smelled like a goat“. There was also evidence of brewing, found in places such as Germany.
  • While some of us indulge in mulled wine during the winter, some Romans indulged in a spiced warm water drink called calda (source)
  • There was also a honey wine called mulsum which was usually served as an aperitif (source)
  • You could also have a glass of apsinthium which was a bitter “wormwood-flavored forerunner of absinthe” which people were addicted to apparently.

Were there any significant cultural or religious rituals associated with drinking in ancient Rome?

You may have seen GIFs of Black African-Americans pouring liquor on the ground in honour of a dead friend or relative (known colloquially as “pouring one out“). This derives from an ancient ritual called a libation where people would pour drinks in the name of gods and that’s exactly what the Romans did with their wine. Festivals like the Bacchanalia and the Saturnalia also involved wine-fueled celebrations.

Become a Patron

Since 2015, the site has remained mostly ad-free. I post affiliate links from time-to-time but I try to post alternative links where appropriate. I also write most of these blogs myself. If you read this and enjoyed the content you've so far, why not consider pledging to my Patreon.


  • Brick – $1/month
  • Concrete – $3/month
  • Steel – $5/month
  • Glass – $7/month
  • Bronze – $10/month

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.