One of my favorite things about being an herbalist is delighting my loved ones with all of the creative herbal concoctions I bring to potlucks. Last week was one of my housemate’s birthdays, and to celebrate her, my friends and I decided to have a little dinner party.
I offered to create a signature mocktail for the night and dreamt up the perfect drink for gathering with loved ones — I call it my Heartwarming Oxymel, since it’s full of herbs that nourish the heart and promote circulation. An oxymel is a mixture of honey and vinegar infused with herbs. I like to first infuse my drinking vinegars with herbs and then sweeten it with honey. Vinegar beautifully extracts minerals from the herbs, and it’s also rich in probiotics that support digestive and immune health.
What’s the Difference Between Oxymels, Shrubs, and Switchel?
In addition to oxymels, there are a few other popular types of drinking vinegars, including shrubs and switchel. A shrub is made with fruit, vinegar, sugar, and often herbs too. Shrubs were originally created as a way to preserve fresh fruit. This tangy vinegar concentrate is generally added to water or sparkling water rather than drunk on its own. You can learn more about shrubs and make your own with Rosalee de la Forêt’s delicious Strawberry Dandelion shrub recipe here.
Switchel is a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar, and sweetener (including honey, molasses, maple syrup, or sugar) that’s flavored with pungent herbs like ginger. This nourishing drink is usually drunk on its own and is an excellent hydrating remedy to sip on during hot summer days.
Drinking Vinegar: The Ultimate Mocktail Ingredient
Whether you make an oxymel, a shrub, or switchel, adding a drinking vinegar to sparkling water is an easy way to make elegant mocktails that will delight your friends and family. The Heartwarming Oxymel was a total hit at the birthday gathering, and I’m excited to share the recipe with you.
But before I show you how to make this tasty recipe, let’s talk about the healing gifts of the herbs in this oxymel…
Rosehips (Rosa spp.)
Rosehips add a sweet and sour kick to this recipe, plus a heaping dose of bioflavonoids. These anti-inflammatory fruits nourish the heart and support the health of the cardiovascular system as a whole.
Orange Peel (Citrus x sinensis)
Orange peel offers a refreshing hint of citrus to this nourishing oxymel and a subtle note of bitterness. This bitter flavor promotes easeful digestion and can relieve symptoms of stagnation, like gas and bloating.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
Have you heard of milky oats? Oatstraw comes from the same plant! It’s just the stem/stalk that the milky oat tops grow on. Like milky oats, oatstraw supports the nervous system. Oatstraw is mineral rich and deeply nourishes our nerves — especially when we’re feeling burnt out or frazzled. This is an excellent soothing herbal ally to consume during summertime when it can feel like there’s an endless string of activities and projects to complete.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a warming bitter that adds a little pungent kick to this nourishing oxymel. This versatile culinary herb has an affinity for boosting immune function, promoting circulation, stimulating digestion, and so much more. I frequently pair it with other heart-nourishing herbs to help circulate their medicine more deeply throughout the body.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
Cinnamon brings warmth and sweetness to the Heartwarming Oxymel. As a circulatory stimulant, it pairs with the ginger in this blend to circulate the other herbs’ medicine more deeply. And as a carminative, cinnamon also supports easeful digestion and absorption.
Heartwarming Oxymel: A Drinking Vinegar Recipe
This tasty oxymel is full of herbs that nourish the heart and promote circulation. Sweetened with honey, this tangy concentrate makes a lovely addition to mocktails and cocktails on hot summer days.
What you’ll need…
- 1 handful dried deseeded rosehips
- 1 handful fresh (or dried) orange peel
- 1 handful oatstraw
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
- Approximately 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup honey or more to taste
- Place your rosehips and oatstraw in a coffee grinder and grind them for about 15 seconds. If you are using dried orange peel, you can also add this to the coffee grinder. If you are using fresh orange peel, you can mince it with a knife. For the herbs that are in the coffee grinder, aim to have them coarsely chopped rather than powdered.
- Add all of your herbs (including the cinnamon and ginger) to a quart-sized glass jar. Pour the apple cider vinegar over your herbs and stir well.
- Cover your jar with a glass or plastic lid. If you only have a metal lid, use parchment paper as a barrier between your vinegar and the lid. (Vinegar corrodes metal, and this would ruin your drink.)
- Shake well. Let this mixture sit in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Shake it daily.
- After 2 weeks, strain off and reserve your vinegar. Add honey to your strained vinegar and stir well.
- Store your oxymel in the fridge where it will last upwards of 6 months.
Note: to create your own at-home mocktail, add 1–2 tablespoons of this oxymel to 8 ounces of sparkling water. Garnish with a fresh orange slice. Enjoy!
Yield: 2.5–3 cups