Why buy expensive energy drinks that could send you to the hospital when the perfect energy supplement is right in your kitchen cupboard? Apple cider vinegar, that old standby, is known for its ability to add some pep to your step.
Beverages flavored with vinegar have been popular on and off for thousands of years. While you may not want to try drinking the stuff straight—the acid can irritate your throat and digestive tract—you can dilute it with water or seltzer to make a healthy, refreshing drink or turn it into a fancier refreshment called a shrub or a switchel. These drinks are the perfect way to enjoy the health benefits of apple cider vinegar any time of the day or night.
If you have a source of fresh cider, you can even make your own apple cider vinegar, a fun late-summer or fall product for the hard-core foodie. But purchased vinegar is a great base for these beverages.
Here are 7 recipes to try:
Plain Apple Cider Vinegar Health Drink
2 teaspoons raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
Combine and serve. Often recommended as a tonic before each meal in folk remedies to alleviate just about anything that ails you.
I first encountered this drink in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, as "ginger water," which her mother made to send to the men in the hot fields cutting hay by hand. It tastes like still ginger beer, and the ginger helps keep it from upsetting your tummy the way drinking too much cold water at once might on a hot day. (Here are 7 more surprising health benefits of eating ginger.)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (or any other sweetener of your choice)
2 cups water
¼ teaspoon fresh grated gingerroot or a pinch of dry ground ginger
Combine and stir until the honey dissolves. Serve cold as a sweet-tangy summertime drink. If you make this often, you can save yourself some time by making a honey-ginger syrup to keep in the fridge and use that instead of mixing up the ingredients each time.
See the video below for an easy way to peel fresh ginger:
Substitute unflavored seltzer for plain water in the Haymaker's Punch switchel recipe.
Fruit Juice Shrub
Shrubs, also called drinking vinegars, are flavorful, tangy, and wonderfully refreshing, made from a fruity vinegar syrup mixed with water or seltzer. They harken back to the Colonial era when vinegar syrups were mixed with spirits to make cocktails—which you can also do (more on that below!).
Start by making your vinegar-syrup shrub concentrate:
1 cup fruit juice
½ cup honey or 1 cup organic sugar (use more or less, depending on the sweetness of the juice and your taste)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1. Combine and store in your refrigerator in a covered jar. You can heat the fruit juice and sugar on the stove to help the sugar dissolve, but don't add the vinegar until after that's cooled or you'll kill off the happy little probiotics that make the vinegar so healthy.
2. To make your shrub, combine 1 part concentrate with 3 or 4 parts cold water or unflavored seltzer.
Similar to making shrub concentrate with fruit juice, this slower method allows more complex flavors to develop, and you can use a wider combination of fruits and spices for truly exotic flavors. Plus, it's a great way to use the delicious whole fruits that are in season.
1 to 2 cups chopped ripe fruit (peaches, berries, even rhubarb, or a mixture)
½ cup honey or 1 cup organic sugar (use more or less, depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your taste)
1 cup apple cider vinegar Optional: minced lemongrass, fresh mint, basil, a cinnamon stick, or whatever spice suits the fruit and your taste.
1. Combine in a large glass jar, cover loosely (don't tighten the lid), and let it sit at room temperature for two days. Then refrigerate for a couple of weeks to let the flavors leach out into the liquid.
2. Strain and store in the refrigerator in a covered jar. To make a shrub, combine one part concentrate with 3 or 4 parts cold water or unflavored seltzer.
A shrub concentrate, with its balance of acid and sweetness, can be the perfect way to add flavor to your favorite liquor without adding excess sweetness. (They may not boost your energy though!) Creative bartenders are crafting amazing shrub syrups (rosemary-pineapple, strawberry-basil, lime-chili, and watermelon-white pepper are some combinations I've seen) and combining them with rum, vodka, whisky, or even craft beers to fashion signature cocktails. If fancy drinks are your passion, making your own shrub concentrates can open up a new world of almost unlimited possibilities. Here's one basic shrub-cocktail recipe:
Combine 1 part shrub concentrate with 3 to 4 parts sparkling wine (dry to sweet, depending on your taste). Garnish with a slice of fresh fruit, a curl of citrus zest, or a sprig of fresh herb to match or complement the shrub's flavor.