Food & Drinks

Switchel: The 18th Century Energy Drink

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Switchel: The 18th Century Energy Drink

Forget coffee and modern energy drinks, it seems our ancestors were staying up late on something else back in the 18th century. We’re talking about the time when our bearded forefathers colonised The States, worked the land dressed in linen shirts and braces, tried their hand at turning hay and revived themselves on one of life's simple pleasures,  switchel.

An energy drink for the weary eyed of the 18th century. 

What is Switchel?

Switchel is a simple drink going by many names; switzel, swizzle, ginger-water, haymaker's punch or switchy.

A number of suggestions have been made as to where it originated from, either the Caribbean or the USA. One certainty is it was enjoyed by tired farmers at the end of a hard days labour, hence the name haymaker's labour. 

The drink is made with apple cider vinegar, water and some kind of sweetener (often maple syrup). Depending upon the chosen ingredients, switchel can contain vitamins, glucose, antioxidants and electrolytes lost after heavy exertion (e.g. potassium, magnesium, and calcium), which is why it is widely touted as a good substitute for sports/energy drinks as well as plain old soft drinks (according to awildgreenlife)

Want to try it? Over at The kitchn they have been experimenting with a good recipe for ginger swtichel.


The Huffington Post describe it as shivery deliciousness, ‘Taking a sip is like jumping into water that's about 10 degrees colder than you expected -- it hurts, but in one of those hurt-so-good ways.’

Meanwhile, Dave Bry, writing in The guardian seems to have fallen in love with Switchel. 'It is absolutely delicious. It is a dream come true. Tart, effervescent, not overly sweet, switchel is pretty much everything I’m looking for in a flavour profile. It might be the most refreshing drink I have ever drank. It’s like it was invented just for me.'

Straight up?

A refreshing thirst quencher, switchel is most commonly enjoyed all on its own or served on the rocks. Word on the street is it’s also perfect for perking up cocktails or splashed in with some vodka, whisky, bourbon or rye.

Up Mountain, an artisanal Brooklyn based Switchel making outfit also suggest adding it in to salad dressings, stocks or marinades.

And if you're feeling under the weather, you can also heat it up and drink it warm much like a health tonic.

All in all it seems if we haven't tried it we might well be missing out on something worth trying.

Speaking of urban farming, check out project B, a beehive for restaurants.

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