Haymaker’s Punch


As we head into the Dog Days of summer, we’re just starting to hit that exciting, abundant time where there’s something to harvest everywhere I look. But the glaring sun and 90-plus temperatures already have me daydreaming of fall. I can’t wait to feel the chill in the air as I harvest tomatoes and winter squash, and it’ll be here before we know it.

But for now, here’s my new favorite way to stay cool and refreshed whether I’m sweating out in the garden, or at my desk.


Actually, it’s a very old formula that supposedly originated in the West Indies, before becoming popular during the 1600s in the American colonies (where it was known as “Switchel.”) It was also a popular beverage for tired farmers in the 1800s, hence the name “Haymaker’s Punch.”

And I’m pretty sure my ancestors would roll their eyes at my excitement over something that was as ubiquitous as gatorade in their day.


There are several different variations, but it generally contains ginger, honey or molasses, and apple cider vinegar all diluted with plenty of ice cold water. It’s not strongly flavored or overly sweet, but refreshing and much easier to gulp down than plain water. I like to use honey, because it gives a nice complex sweetness along with the ginger (I tried it with molasses too; it was tasty but too much like gingerbread to make me want a tall glass on a hot day.) Fresh ginger wasn’t widely available back then so ground was often used, but I really love the subtle bite of fresh ginger.

And if you’re not familiar with vinegar-based drinks, they used to be the norm before citrus was widely used in the U.S., and they’re much more agreeable than you might think — especially when rounded out with a little ginger and honey. But don’t take it from me, go make your own jar:

Haymaker’s Punch (Switchel)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 1/2 gallon

Haymaker’s Punch (Switchel)

Fresh ginger, apple cider vinegar, and honey make for an old-fashioned refresher that will keep you going through the summer heat.


  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root (or you can use ~1 tsp powdered)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, unfiltered)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 gallon cold filtered water + ice


  1. Combine ginger, vinegar, and honey in a large glass jar along with a cup or two of water, and stir or shake vigorously until honey is dissolved.)
  2. Add remaining water and stir, taste for acid/sweet balance and then refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to develop.
  3. Pour over a big glass of ice and garnish with a mint sprig, if you like.

One Thought on “Haymaker’s Punch

  1. Winslow on July 16, 2013 at said:

    How very nice of you to offer-up this good old drink. It is as you say and more. The health benefits of vinegar cannot be denied. I have been enjoying this drink, and variations of it for 92 years.

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