Home Recipes for Ginger Ale

The best way I could think of to thank the many people who sent me recipes for The Haymaker’s Drink (or Switchel or Ginger Ale, or Swaggel) and to thank the magazines who printed my request for information concerning this drink is to compile all and send each of you a copy. These are not for sale, this is just my way of saying ‘Thank You.’

You will find that the ingredients are the same in just about all the recipes, however the amounts differ. Making the drink was usually the work of individual farm wives and being individuals, each has her own way of doing things. The recipe I had in mind did not contain ginger, it did contain soda though and such a recipe was sent to me, in fact, a couple of them.

For your information, my main interest is railroading, in fact I am a member of over twenty railroad organizations, president of two (one local, one national). I am also a member of an equal number of historical organizations. Naturally I cannot be active in all of these, but I do what I can, when I can, for whom I can.

I hope that each of you will enjoy this compilation of recipes as much as I do, and I most sincerely thank you for taking the time to write them and send them to me, this is deeply appreciated.

Home Recipes for Ginger Ale (also known as switchel, Swaggle or the Haymaker’s Drink)
Sent by Elaine Harrington, Cooperstown, New York

– 2-1/2 to 3 TBS vinegar
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/4 cup sweetening (white, or brown sugar or honey)

Place all ingredients in a quart jar or pitcher, fill with water and ice, mix well.

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Sent by Laverne Schmitt, Neillsville, Wisconsin– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3 or 4 TBS vinegar
– 1/2 tsp ginger

Add water to above ingredients to make 2 quarts.

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Sent by Bob and Sonja Hawn, Brooten, MinnesotaThis is also known as ‘Essig Wasser’ in Germany
– 3 cups water
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 4 tsp vinegar
– 3/4 tsp vanilla
– 1/8 tsp nutmeg

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Sent by W. E. Neal, Charles City, Iowa– 1/4tsp ginger
– 1/4 cup vinegar
– 2/3 cup sugar

Put ingredients in a quart jar, fill with water and ice, mix well. Mr. Neal tells me that he did add a smidgen of soda to it now and then just to make it fizz.

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Sent by Marcie Leitzke, Shawano, Wisconsin
This drink, known as ‘Farmers Soda ‘ may be found in the cookbook written by Marcie, ‘Early 1900 Pantry Recipes.’ I purchased a copy of the book from Marcie and must say that it was well worth the few dollars that it cost.
– 1 tsp. lemon juice
– 1TBS powdered sugar
– 1 tsp baking soda

Mix in one glass of water and drink while bubbly.

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Sent by Chressy Cesan, Hampden, Massachusetts
– 1 gallon water
– 2cups sugar
– 1 cup molasses
– 1/2 cup vinegar
– 1 tsp ginger

Heat all in 2 cups of the water until dissolved, add the rest of the gallon of water, stir and chill well.

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Sent by Coles Roberts, North Brunswick, New Jersey
(Mr. Roberts is Curator of Collections of the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture)
– 1/3 vinegar
– 1/3 molasses or honey
– 1/3 water

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Sent by John Haywood, McIndoe Falls, Vermont– 1-1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
– 1 tsp ginger

Add enough water to make one gallon and shake well.

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Sent by Paul Knickerbockers, Pittsford, New York
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 cup molasses
– 3/4 cup vinegar
– 7 cups water

Mix until sugar dissolves, chill and serve over ice.

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Sent by Richard Rulon, Avon, Connecticut
– 2/3 milk pail of water
– 1 full cup vinegar
– 1 small cup of molasses
– 3 heaping tsps ginger
– 5 or 6 eggs beaten to a froth

Mix well and serve. Dick tells me that this recipe was used by his grandfather in the tobacco fields.

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Sent by Donald Mitchell, Duncannon, Pennsylvania– ground cinnamon
– ground cloves
– sugar
– vinegar
– soda

Mix soda and vinegar together and let fizz, then add other ingredients. Mr. Mitchell, who is 70 years old, says this recipe was in his mother’s recipe book, she had the ingredients but not the proportions. Those she kept in her head. He also says it tasted real good back in the thirties and forties.

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Sent by Carol Walker, Palo Alto, California
– 1 gallon water
– 1 cup molasses
– 1-1/4 cups vinegar
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 tsp ginger

Mix until sugar is dissolved, chill and serve.

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Sent by Maggie Snyder, Vicksburg, Michigan
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 cup molasses
– 3/4 cup vinegar
– 2 quarts water

Mix well, chill and serve.

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Sent by Bruce Metz, Renton, Washington– 1/2 cup each maple sugar and honey
– 1/2 cup (generous) apple cider vinegar (none other)
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1 tsp baking soda

With a bit of the vinegar make a thin smooth paste of the soda and ginger. Mix that into the rest of the vinegar and combine with the syrup and honey. Stir the mixture into the gallon of water, chill and drink.

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Sent by Jim Wohtfell, Waterford, Michigan
– 1 gallon distilled water
– 1 cup honey
– 1 cup raw vinegar
– Knox Drinking Gelatin
– Knox Nutra Joint

Put 1/2  of the water, honey and vinegar in a container and place this in a sink filled with hot water. When everything is as warm as possible put two packs of drinking gelatin and four scoops of Nutra-Joint into the hot mixture, shake well until the gelatin is dissolved then add the remaining water. Shake well, chill and enjoy. This not only helps slack thirst during a long hot day in the field but it is said to help keep the joints working smoothly. Obviously not an old recipe, rather an adaptation of an old one. I don’t know about the joints but I will say that it does help do away with thirst.

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Submitted by Walter L. Hayward
1-1/2 cups of a blend of maple syrup, brown sugar and molasses (at least 1/4 cup should be molasses)
– 1 cup cider vinegar
– 1 TBS fresh grated ginger (3/4 TBS if using powdered ginger)
– 1 tsp salt

Cold water enough to make one gallon. Mix all ingredients and chill.

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