After a long and tiring working day, a refreshing and cool drink is the perfect way to chill out and relax. But, what if you don’t have limes or lemons? Beer is a great choice yet there are still many other great choices.
If you try to look back to several hundred years, the Switchel or haymaker’s punch is one of the most common and popular refreshers people loved. If you try to go back a bit further, you will discover Oxymel, its precursor.
What are the qualities these two drinks share in common? Both of them contain vinegar as acidulant.
According to Darcy O’Neil, before rapid transit and refrigeration, citrus fruit was just available for a rather narrow time period each year. In several northern countries, using limes and lemons would have been quite expensive, which means that only the rich and southerners enjoyed them. This also meant that the peons had to look for something else they can use.
Vinegar was the easy option. Abundant and cheap, anyone can afford vinegar. This was usually the byproduct of fermented liquid, going through additional bacteria fermentation that turns alcohol to vinegar. Mead, perry, cider, beer, and wine usually turned into vinegar before this can be consumed. People normally don’t throw it out as they only lower the price then sell it or they also use it to preserve other foods.
The natural bacterial fermentation process affected everything. Many alcoholic drinks had some amount of vinegar added to them. Since it was normal, people then developed a taste for beverages flavored with vinegar, including haymaker’s punch.
Off Grid With Doug & Stacy gives you a glimpse of how to prepare haymakers punch, a quenching drink that dates as far back as the 1800s. I love to whirl mine in the blender with loads of ice because it makes it super cold and the cold lasts a long time with the ice.