In twenty years of hauling all manner of cargo around the world, Briggs had never carried alcohol before. It would have been natural of him to be nervous about it. Because of its flammability, alcohol was considered, along with coal, one of the three most dangerous cargos for a ship to haul. In the stories that would come, much was made of the alcohol aboard the Mary Celeste and what, if any, role it had in the crew’s disappearance. Many people assumed the alcohol was some sort of distilled spirit and spun wild tales of a drunken, mutinous crew. But there was little chance this crew would be tying one on during the voyage. The generic alcohol the Mary Celeste carried was most likely some kind of industrial ethanol or methanol, something that not even sailors could drink.
Briggs did not even allow his crews to carry their own liquor on board. It was a rule inherited from his father, who swore off alcohol as a boy after an old blacksmith slipped him a drink of moonshine.