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Get to Know Switchel

Tart and tangy drinks are trending — we’ve already seen the rise of shrubs, and now we’re ready to embrace the resurgence of a historic American drink: switchel.

What is Switchel?

Similar to a shrub, switchel, also known as “haymaker’s punch,” is made by mixing vinegar (often apple cider vinegar) with molasses or maple syrup, lemon, ginger or other ingredients. It is diluted with still water or sparkling water.

The origins of switchel are debated between the Caribbean and New England, but no matter where it came from, switchel was a popular drink in the 17th century and became the go-to for farmers working in the hot sun. Some say it was the first energy drink!

Switchel has been making a comeback thanks in part to the trends of Prohibition-era cocktails, house-made bitters, and kombucha brewing. While some companies are offering premade switchel, it’s easy to make a batch at home.

How to Enjoy Switchel

Switchel can be made ahead of time in large batches, and diluted when ready to serve. It’s great to keep on hand for hot summer days or for mixing into cocktails. Plus, letting it rest in the refrigerator will help the flavors meld together for a wonderful taste.

When making switchel, be sure to not add too much sweetener. You can always choose to add honey or agave when diluting the drink, but it’s harder to save an overly sweet batch.

Try some of these variations in your switchel:

  • Use molasses instead of honey or maple syrup
  • Add fresh fruits like blueberries
  • Try lime juice instead of lemon
  • Use fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme
  • Swap in cinnamon sticks or star anise for the ginger