Nourishment is an essential part of the Jewish religion. We nourish ourselves every week through the Shabbat ritual, bringing good food and meaningful interactions into our weekly traditions. What’s more, after meals we say Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals, which is actually the blessing on nourishment.
Nourishment takes many forms, be it through prayer, a yoga practice or the healthy food and drink you put into your body. That nourishing mindset is the motivation behind Sip City, a local company producing a drink called switchel that is full of all-natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar and ginger.
Although gut health and probiotics are all the rage in the health and wellness world right now (kombucha, anyone?), there’s proof that those very concepts aren’t as new as we think. Switchel goes back all the way to Colonial America when farmers sipped it to stay cool and refuel from the hot sun. Nikki Blank, one of the two women behind Sip City, discovered switchel not on the farm, but in her own tiny apartment in Boston. As a regular kombucha drinker, she wanted to save money and brew some herself, but was a bit hesitant about the contaminants from her tiny space. After some trial and error, she hit gold and found a recipe for switchel that turned into an underground business for her coworkers at PBS.
With the budding growth of her business, and a new relationship, Blank decided to take a chance and move to DC. Leaving her corporate job, she became closer to Josie Gibbens, her partner here in DC, and discovered the growing food startup community that has launched some Jewish Food Experience® favorites like Swapples, Javazen and Brooklyn Sandwich Co. After getting encouragement from David Letterman (she ran into him during brunch and told him about her business idea!), she successfully pitched food-incubator Union Kitchen and launched the business in January 2018. Since then, Blank and Gibbens have been re-introducing the great American beverage into the District’s kombucha-loving community.
Knowing very few people when she moved to DC a year ago, Blank turned to the thriving Jewish community to get more involved. She’s participated in OneTable dinners and events, not only as a guest, but also sharing her switchel at a recent OneTable Nourish and Nosh: Yoga Dinner Shabbat. There, she met people from GatherDC and got involved in that community as well. She is always looking to make new connections, introducing people to switchel and sharing her passion.
Sip City switchel comes in three flavors, each with its own unique story. When asked about the varieties, Blank explained that she and Gibbens wanted their product to reflect places of significance to them: The District, The Nashville and The Boston. These three cities are places where either of the founders lived for a period of time, and without these cities and their experiences there, Sip City as we know it wouldn’t exist. Stay tuned for a possible Tokyo-themed switchel with green tea yuzu, too, as Blank’s family actually lives in Tokyo, and she goes to visit at least once a year.