Switchel or Haymaker’s Punch is a refreshing drink made from apple cider vinegar. It was how colonial farmers quenched their thirst out in the hot, sunbaked fields—which is enough of an endorsement for me!
This drink is also called Haymaker’s Punch because it was often drunk while haying—which is hard work.
What is Switchel?
Switchel has a long history as a traditional drink with Colonial Americans. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients—apple cider vinegar, ginger, water, and a sweetener.
Think of it as “Nature’s Gatorade.” It will give you an energizing electrolyte boost better than any pricey energy drink or soda. All the ingredients (except water, of course) are actually sources of the electrolyte potassium. Switchel is 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 Recipe
Here’s a classic Haymaker’s Punch 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 Recipe from an Almanac Reader
Here’s another switchel recipe from Dennis Miles, an Almanac Facebook fan and full-time blacksmith. He drinks his Haymaker’s Punch 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!
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.)
Learn more about the History of Switchel from the Almanac archives!