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Tina Hartell

Switchel is a hot-afternoon drink, a cooling beverage that replenishes electrolytes (or cations for the chemists) and warms a body that has been hard at work outside on a blistering early July afternoon.

  • 4 cups cold well water
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (you can use fresh too making for strong ginger flavor)
  • 1/4 cup Bobo’s Mountain maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

Mix, shake, and keep cold for a few hours in the fridge. Then, my preference is to dilute 50% switchel / 50% ice water and add fresh mint.

Switchel migrated from the Caribbean and was originally made with molasses, a byproduct of the Caribbean sugar production. In Vermont, it became the hay-maker’s drink: a 19th-century Gatorade. The cider vinegar adds an unfamiliar punch – something our palates aren’t used to – but it acidifies the drink in a part of the country where lemons and limes weren’t readily available.