The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Switchel - Refreshing Summertime Drink

By Vicki Lopez-Kaley (Seasonal) on Friday, August 26th 2022

Switchel - Refreshing Summertime Drink

1/3 C sugar
2/3 C water
1/4 C mint
1/4 C lemon balm (or substitute with more mint!)
1/2 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 C orange juice
2 quarts ginger ale


  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil and set aside. Squeeze citrus juices and finely chop mint and lemon balm.
  2. Add orange and lemon juices to the hot sugar syrup. Remove from the heat, add chopped herbs and cover. Let steep for at least 1 hour.
  3. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer or sieve. Add ginger ale and serve chilled.
  4. Note: All mint may be used instead of lemon balm.

Meg Paulino got this recipe from an herb farm in Seattle many years ago and it is her favorite summertime drink!

This drink was often served to farmers at hay harvest time to quench the thirst of parched field workers and is sometimes called “haymaker’s punch”. Lemons are rich in electrolytes and Switchel sounds more refreshing than Gatorade on a harvest time day.

Switchel dates back to colonial times when products like maple syrup would have been used for sweetener. Vinegar and ginger juice were common ingredients in the absence of acidic lemon and modern ginger ale.  Stories are told of gatherings of the Constitutional Congress where a punch bowl of Switchel was served sweetened with cane sugar or molasses and spiked with rum all from the West Indies.

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