I am nostalgic for a made up drink.
September 22, 2010 2:00 PM   Subscribe

So my Depression-era grandma used to make us this drink consisting of (I think) ginger, vinegar, sugar, and water. The recipe went to the pearly gates along with her. Help.

She'd make it in the summer and I remember it being quite refreshing, kind of like ginger ale but different. I've searched the intarwebs but can only find recipes for apple cider tonic or some recipe involving fruit and balsamic.

Does any of this ring a bell to anyone? Is this a midwestern thing? Or was this just something the voices told her to make and it turned out delicious anyhow?
posted by moitz to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
What you are describing is indeed very similar to ginger ale. So, why not take some ginger ale and add a dash of vinegar and see how it tastes? You may like it.
posted by grizzled at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Switchel

I remember this from one of the Little House books.
posted by Seamus at 2:09 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: that's switchel, otherwise known as ginger water and haymaker's punch. Laura Ingalls Wilder described it thus in The Long Winter: "Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot."

Recipes abound.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: That sounds like switchel, AKA Haymaker's punch. There are a number of recipes out there, I haven't tried any yet but they all tend to have the same basic ingredients. I've been meaning to try making some for the last couple of years, but somehow summer keeps disappearing on me.
posted by usonian at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2010

Best answer: Some recipes from Uncle Phaedrus.
posted by Seamus at 2:14 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Holy crap you guys are awesome.
posted by moitz at 2:17 PM on September 22, 2010

You may also want to try this lemon ginger cordial recipe, as you can mix it with either hot or cold water and the lemon juice and cream of tartar would give it acidity.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:24 PM on September 22, 2010

I totally just made some with my microplate grater, some apple cider vinegar and some splenda. mmmm.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:43 PM on September 22, 2010

You've found your grandmother's recipe, but might also like Sekanjabin, a sweet-tangy drink made with mint and vinegar that is very cooling and satisfying on hot, grouchy days.
posted by maudlin at 3:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might also be interested in this Iranian drink. The mint syrup mentioned is basically vinegar and sugar boiled with mint and water. The vinegar is present in excess of what would be needed just to create an invert syrup.
posted by Good Brain at 4:03 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're curious about drinks similar to switchel, read Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop by Stephen Edward Cresswell. It covers a lot more than the carbonated rinks the title mentions and includes many historical recipes.
posted by PueExMachina at 6:25 PM on September 22, 2010

There is a related drink made with fruit juice (often spiced), sugar, and vinegar known as a shrub.
posted by TedW at 6:37 PM on September 22, 2010

Tried making some this eve. Excellent. Thanka for asking this question.

From reading the recipes and then playing with them, I've determined that all ingredients are adjustable to suit tastes but if I wanted to use this as a rehydrating beverage, I would probably add a pinch of salt.
posted by Seamus at 7:50 PM on September 22, 2010

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