The immune-boosting drink that makes apple cider vinegar look tame

A few years ago, I developed a mid-winter cough that sounded so alarming, a friend went to her trusted Chinese herbalist in search of a cure. She brought back packets of a khaki-colored liquid and instructions for me to heat it up and gulp it down three times a day. It tasted horrible, but when a deep warmth spread across my chest after chugging the first mug, I was hooked. My cough quickly disappeared. I get that same sensation each morning in the fall and winter months when I start the day with a spoonful of Fire Cider. Based on an ancient type of herbal medicinal preparation called an oxymel, Fire Cider is a tonic produced by steeping citrus, ginger, garlic, onions, horseradish, turmeric, and habanero peppers in apple cider vinegar for a minimum of six weeks. The flavor falls somewhere between pickle juice and kombucha—and when you take a straight shot of it, the peculiar fire of horseradish shoots up your nose. The flavor falls somewhere between pickle juice and kombucha—but when you take a straight shot of it, the peculiar fire of horseradish shoots up your nose while, at the same time, the capsicum heat from the habaneros spreads down your throat. I know it sounds terrible (and terrifying), but the burn is quick—you’re not going to walk around with your mouth on fire all day. I first tried Fire Cider, trademarked by the brand Shire City Herbals, after moving to Vermont last year. I was faced with the twin prospects of a long, cold winter and my son starting daycare—was there any way I could avoid every cold, sniffle, and virus that crawls the earth? For just $15 per bottle (that’s about six weeks’ worth of daily shots, or $0.32 a shot, if you’re keeping track) I avoided most of the itinerant bugs my son caught last winter. I don’t think “miraculous” is too strong...

Testimonials

Testimonials