Dating to the colonial era, switchel might be the quintessential American drink. So what is it? It\u2019s a combination of apple cider vinegar, ginger, water and a sweetener\u2014commonly molasses, maple syrup or honey.\r\n\r\n\u201cSugarcane molasses was probably the first switchel sweetener when the drink originated in the Caribbean,\u201d says Emily Han, author of Wild Drinks & Cocktails: Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home (Fair Winds Press, 2015). \u201cAs the drink caught on in New England, folks often used maple syrup, which was their local sweetener. I also really like sweetening switchels with honey, because the flavor tends to be brighter, less overpowering.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlso called \u201cHaymaker\u2019s Punch,\u201d switchel was popular among 19th-century farm workers.\r\n\r\n\u201cSwitchels are often referred to as the original sports drink\u2026raw vinegar, molasses (particularly blackstrap), maple syrup and ginger can provide valuable minerals and electrolytes like potassium,\u201d Han says. \u201cI love the interplay of sweet, sour and heat, from the tangy vinegar to the gingery bite.\u201d\r\n\r\nWith all these benefits, it\u2019s no surprise that switchel is again popular, thanks in part to advocates like Han, but also due to a crop of small-batch commercial producers.\r\n\r\nVermont Switchel Company and Up Mountain Switchel (which originated in Vermont and is now based in Brooklyn) produce switchels that are sweetened with maple syrup. There are also honeyed versions, made by Minnesota-based Saint Paul Switchel and Superior Switchel. All these are available at gourmet grocery stores and online. Everyone\u2019s formula is a little different, so don\u2019t be hesitant to switch around.\r\n\r\n\r\nSwitchel Tipples\r\n\u201cThe first time I tried [it],\u00a0 I was like, \u2018This is so obviously the base of a cocktail,\u2019\u2009\u201d says Del Pedro of Tooker Alley in Brooklyn. His Haymaker\u2019s Punch is made with cane syrup, simple syrup, ginger, cider vinegar, lemon, Bourbon and a surprising splash of Aperol.\r\n\r\n\u201cAperol is made from rhubarb,\u201d says Pedro. \u201cRhubarb, ginger, apple cider? You can\u2019t go wrong.\u201d\r\n\r\nAcross town at Montana\u2019s Trail House, Chef Nate Courtland ferments his own apple cider vinegar and ages his maple-syrup sweetened switchel in Bourbon barrels. The finished product serves as a base for a selection of cocktails.\r\n\r\nWhile switchel mixology seems limited to Brooklyn for now, New Hampshire\u2019s Boggy Meadow Farm bottles a Switchel Cider Vodka ready to enjoy at home.\r\nGinger Switchel Recipe\r\n\r\n \t3 cups warm water\r\n \t\u00bc cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar\r\n \t3 tablespoons molasses, pure maple syrup or honey\r\n \t1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger\r\n\r\nCombine all the ingredients in glass jar or pitcher. Stir to dissolve sweetener. Steep at room temperature for 2 hours or in refrigerator for 1-2 days. Strain ginger out and serve, or refrigerate for up to 1 week. Serves 4-6.