Switchel, The Perfect Refresher That’s Amazingly Good For You

You might already expect so, but I am, indeed, obsessed with food on the internet. From Australians Taste Test American Sweets to The Guide to Chinese Dumplings on Lucky Peach; I am obsessed. I can’t even pass by the Aquafaba page Vegan Meringue, although I have no aspirations to eat vegan.

I plan meals this way, I research new recipes, I stay on top of “what’s new.” I am as obsessed with nutrition as I am with deliciousness, so I am just as likely to follow the latest “miracle food” link as “how to make perfect biryani”.

Which is why I kept trying to drink apple cider vinegar. It just seems to be so darn good for you. Full of probiotics, it might help you lose weight, it helps manage blood sugar, there are long lists of the benefits of cider vinegar everywhere, but I just couldn’t bring myself to “drink an ounce in eight ounces of water” when I woke up in the AM. Yuck. “I’ll just use it in more salad dressings.” I thought.

Until last summer when my Facebook feed challenged me: “Are You Cool Enough to Drink Switchel?” Always wanting to be on top of any food or drink movement, I had to try the “age-old farmer’s thirst quencher” which is the latest hipster drink to put in a Mason Jar. I was immediately hooked. Switchel with a maple switch

It’s refreshing, it’s delicious, it’s energizing particularly when you’re working a twelve-hour day at the restaurant and don’t have time to eat. Not only does it have the miraculous apple cider vinegar, but you combine it with the equally life-giving ginger, and… (maple sugar’s good for you, right?)

Regardless, it takes cider vinegar not just to palatable but well beyond. It has that lovely balance that you rarely find in a beverage outside of beer and wine that cleanses the palate and compliments your food. It tastes adult, but it’s non-toxic. (That being said, it is also tremendously delicious with bourbon or most any brown liquor). It’s also really soothing for your tummy when you’ve overindulged (Holidays).

Switchel Ingredients, Apple Cider Vinegar, Maple Syrup, Ginger, Sparkling Water

Three simple ingredients, Maple Syrup (this is from our trees last spring), Apple Cider Vinegar (make sure to get raw apple cider vinegar for the taste and the probiotics), and Ginger (powdered, fresh, or a blend) this will make your base. I was very excited to find this Wild Cider Vinegar from 5 Star Farm at the Blue Hill Coop, it is almost tasty enough to drink on its own. At Ravens Nest this summer we used Ricker Hill, also delicious but a much lighter vinegar.

Switchel truly did save our staff on the breakfast-through-dinner shifts of August, and we even convinced quite a few customers to try it. We like it with sparkling water, the classic seems is plain tap water, but the bubbles just bring it up a notch for me.

Switchel, the perfect refresher that's amazingly good for you
Recipe type: Beverages
Cuisine: Local
Serves: 16
  • 2 cups Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 cups Maple Syrup
  • 1 TB Powdered Ginger or 2 TB Fresh Grated Ginger or a combination
  • Sparkling water to taste (6 oz or so per serving)
  1. Place the vinegar, maple syrup, and ginger in a one quart ball jar or equivalent.
  2. Cover and shake well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or indefinitely.
  3. To serve, pour two ounces (or to taste) over ice in a tall glass.
  4. Fill glass with sparkling water.
  5. Stir to incorporate and enjoy.


Switchel compliments turkey and rich holiday foods, how about an historic beverage change-up for your holiday menus.

It’s up to you on how intense you like the flavor, keep the base syrup in the fridge and add it to sparkling water as you like. If it’s not sweet enough or too sweet for your own tastes, just change up the ratio of syrup to vinegar. Honey, agave syrup, or even corn syrup, simple syrup, molasses could be used to sweeten instead of the maple. Use what works for you and your body.

Bragg’s is the easiest to find raw apple cider vinegar, check to see if any of your local orchards make a vinegar.

Make your own apple cider vinegar by saving the mother (the slimy island of goo that’s in the bottom of the vinegar) from your first bottle then add apple cider to it. Leave at room temp with a breathable covering of cheese cloth until the mother converts the sugars to vinegar (weeks).

Flavor your Switchel with other juices. I like to put unsweetened cranberry concentrate in mine, blueberry juice is also tasty.

Add a splash of Switchel base to your morning smoothie. It will give your fruit and veggie mix an extra kick.

Cary Hanson

About Cary Hanson

My husband and I didn't have children, we had a restaurant. For twelve and a half years we poured body and soul into Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro. We worked closely with local farmers, fishermen, and food artisans, doing our best to support our local community. We made great friends, beautiful food, and had a lot of fun. As Rich and I rediscover ourselves as our own beings outside of the all-consuming restaurant we have time to share our recipes and reminisce about Cleonice.