Topic: Beverages

Switchel | Haymaker’s Punch — A Simple Ginger Beer

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Haymaker'sPunchFrom Yankee July 1975

Haymaker’s Punch, also called switchel, came along before the introduction of Gatorade or any kind of discussion of the need to replenish electrolytes. Hardworking farmers in the young New England colonies knew what to turn to when they needed a refresher.

Switchel, or haymaker’s punch, as it came to be known, was the drink of choice for workers out in the field who wanted to cool off with something with a bit more of a kick than just plain old well water.

A simplified version of ginger beer, switchel may be sweetened in a number of ways–sugar, honey, or maple syrup–but our preference has always been molasses.

Here’s a classic New England recipe:
Mix 1 quart water, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, and the juice of 1 lemon. Serve ice-cold.


  • Once a long time ago you published two recipes for Hay Makers’ Swsitzel. One had molasses and one did not. I make the one without molasses as it is just like what my grandmother made back in the l930’s-40’s!!It has sugar and I thought vinegar not lemon juice. I have misplaced my recipes cut out of Yankee and on a small card. lDo you know what the recipes were????

    I made it last summer but the recipe is lost. Can you help me???? Thanks!! Tibby

  • I was thinking exactly the same thing. Comment again if you come up with something good…

  • Sounds yummy. Now, to figure out a way to make it as a delicious adult cocktail!


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