Did people used to drink bay rum? Is it safe?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_rum

It makes a nice and cheap cologne, smells great!

I’ve seen several references to this being nothing more than a prohibition era wink wink nudge nudge way to obtain legal booze. Was this actually common? It seems too easy, why go to speakeasy if you could get sloshed for cheap legally.

It is also the drink of choice for homeless people in the West Indies, not that says much about its taste or safety.

Apparently, yes and yes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_rum

I believe that current bay rum sold as an aftershave or cologne uses denatured alcohol, that is, there is acetone or something similar added to make it undrinkable.