Switchel or Haymaker’s Punch is a delicious drink made from apple cider vinegar. It was how colonial farmers quenched their thirst out in the hot, sunbaked fields, and that’s enough of an endorsement for me!
This drink is called Haymaker’s Punch because it was drunk while haying fields. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients—including apple cider vinegar, ginger, and a sweetener.
Switchel also has a long history as a traditional drink in New England and as the preferred beverage of Congress.
Switchel is not only hydrating, but also energizing. Think of it as “Nature’s Gatorade.” It will give you an electrolyte boost better than any pricey energy drink or soda. All the ingredients (except water, of course) are actually sources of the electrolyte potassium. It’s known as a health tonic that boosts the immune system, too (but don’t tell the kids it’s ‘healthy”). Apple cider vinegar even helps to detoxify your organs!
Its cold-weather cousin, Apple-Cider Tonic, is also known to keep your immune system running smoothly and can help keep you safe from those nasty winter colds.
We tested a few great switchel recipes to see if it really lived up to its old-fashioned fame.
Old-Fashioned Switchel or Haymaker’s Punch Recipe
Here’s a classic recipe which was unearthed from the archives of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
- 1 gallon water
- 1 ½ cups molasses
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (ground)
We like molasses, but you could replace it with maple syrup, honey, or another sweetener. You could cut back the sweetener, too. Find the right balance for you. Remember to start with less—as you can always add more. Switchel shouldn’t coat your mouth; it should taste refreshing. Another idea is to add a teaspoon of fresh lemon or lime juice for zing.
Switchel or Haymaker’s Punch Recipe from an Almanac Reader
Here’s another switchel recipe from Dennis Miles, an Almanac Facebook fan and full-time blacksmith. He drinks his switchel from a mid-19th century haymaker’s jug.
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ginger (fresh)
Serve in mason jars.
Switchel: A Refreshing Summer Drink
My friend, Wendy, and I decided to make a pitcher one summer’s day, using our Almanac recipe.
Mmmm! Switchel is so refreshing and delicious! It tastes pleasantly tart and surprisingly not too sweet.
And, boy, is it drinkable—much more so than plain water. I’ll say that it did quench my thirst for water, but not for switchel. We drank half the pitcher and felt quite saturated!
You can make the switchel last longer or less sweet by adding more water or a bubbly seltzer. (My guess is it could turn into a cocktail drink, too.) Drink from a mason jar or jug if you have one!
Enjoy more about this History of Switchel from the Almanac archives!