Switchel-ish

Switchel

Switchel

An interesting American frontier drink is called “Switchel”.

Basically, Switchel is Ginger Syrup acidulated with vinegar instead of the usual citrus. As for where Switchel ends and Shrub begins, I guess Switchel is a subset of the Shrub superset. It must always contain ginger & vinegar, with vulnerabilities allowed mostly in sweetener and spice. Early recipes are usually sweetened with Molassses and/or Honey.

Fooling around with versions of my Ginger Beer, I wondered how it would be if I added some Vinegar, a la Switchel.

Initial versions were not that awesome, but it turned out a spiced, yeast carbonated version is really awesome. Probably my favorite Ginger based beverage so far.

Switchel-ish

1 Quart Water
3/4 Cup Washed Raw Sugar
5 oz Ginger, sliced
4 Very Spicy dried chile (Chile de Arbol)
1 tsp green cardamom seeds
4 whole cloves

4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Yeast


METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Bring 24 oz water and all sugar to simmer. Add ginger and spices to blender bowl with remaining water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice, vinegar, and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam.

I tried a bunch of frontier style booze add-ons with this, Jamaican Rum, Rye Whiskey, Bourbon, Genever, etc. I enjoyed none of them as much as the drink on its own.

Eventually I gave in and tried mixing it with the obvious choice, Dry Gin. Yep, that’s it.

Switchel-ish High Ball

1 1/2 oz Beefeater
1 oz Soda water
3 oz Switchel

Build and stir carefully in an iced Collins Glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger.

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