In the 18th century, before sodas and sports drinks, farmers and harvesters drank switchel to quench their thirst during long days in the fields.
Variously known as switzel, swizzle, switchy, ginger-water or haymaker’s punch, a switchel was made from vinegar, water, lemon juice and ginger. It was generally sweetened with molasses, honey or maple syrup.
Its origins can be traced back more than 2,500 years to Socrates and the ancient Greek medicine men who discovered a drink they called oxymel, prepared with water, vinegar and honey.
The recipe progressed through history to the 16th century, when a variant is known to have been popular in the Caribbean to combat the effects of long days working in tropical heat. By the 17th century it had spread to the American colonies, particularly New England, gaining increasing popularity for its superior ability to refresh, hydrate and energise.
Later it was favoured by sailors, labourers, politicians, and scholars (some had a habit of spiking it with rum). Farmers working their fields would guzzle it by the jug, giving it its other name, 'haymaker’s punch'.
Of course the 20th century saw the arrival of manufactured fizzy, sugar-filled drinks which, helped by huge advertising, eventually dominated the market.
Now, however, the traditional properties of switchel are being re-discovered by hipsters and health enthusiasts alike who are set to restore it to its historic heights.
At the core of every Swizzy are the original four natural ingredients – apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, pure maple syrup and ginger tea (ginger and water).
Its taste? Swizzy strikes an unusual but delicious balance between tartness (apple cider vinegar), sweetness (maple syrup), and spiciness (ginger).
Great tasting, natural, good-for-you, nothing artificial and no nasties or preservatives - fill your boots!