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Tru Bahamian Must Eat: Switcha

a cup of coffee

Summer in the Bahama islands has us feelin’ hot, hot, hot! Fortunately, we Bahamians have engineered many an interesting way to cool down over the years- the most delicious and refreshing option being a  tall glass of ice cold Switcha. The ultimate Bahamian thirst-quencher, Switcha is our local version of limeade and it’s a simple, yet tantalizing elixir chocked full of citrusy goodness with just enough sweet to keep you satisfied as you soak in the Bahamian climate. Whether you order a glass of freshly squeezed Switcha at a downhome local eatery or grade bottle on the go from a local retailer, we guarantee that your next thought will be how to make sure you have a few litres of this good stuff packed in your suitcase before you head back home. But wait! Before you venture off in search of cup of Switcha to call your own, here’s what you need to know about this truly Bahamian drink:

Origins Of Switcha

a vase sitting on a table
Credit: Sandals Wedding Blog

While many food historians credit the Egyptians for the creation of lemonade, Bahamian Switcha as we know it originates from the Southern United States and crossed borders via our Loyalist ancestors during the late 1780s. The origins of the name “Switcha” are very difficult to trace, but you will find that the common consensus among locals is that the tart juices of Key limes used in the drink gives the limeade a tangy taste that makes drinkers “switch up” their faces! Clever huh?

What’s In Switcha?

a close up of a bowl of fruit next to a cup of coffee
Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours

Nothing is more simple and delicious than Bahamian Switcha and because it is so easy to make- enjoying it on a regular basis is commonplace here. You won’t find Switcha to be simply a mild lemonade and in fact, it would be more accurate to describe the drink as a very tangy and tart limeade. While Persian limes grow easily here in the Bahamas, Switcha typically utilizes Key limes- small, yellow citrus fruits packed with juice and classic lime fragrance. Along with the key lime juice, you just need water and cane sugar and these three ingredients combine to form a refreshing, uncomplicated drink ideal for any occasion!

Variations Of The Recipe

a glass of orange juice
Credit: Uncommon Caribbean

Switcha is absolutely delicious in its simplest form, but many locals and restaurateurs do want to distinguish their drink from the rest so you’ll find a lot of interesting takes on the original recipe around the island. Mrs. Mena Wallace at Bahamian Cookin likes to add sour oranges (or Seville orange) to her drink, along with a bit of lemon juice. Others prefer to add a hint of mint, ginger, or grapefruit. However, the most popular addition to Switcha is rum, because we Bahamians do appreciate a spirited beverage here and there- see for yourself at the next RumBahamas Festival! Mixologists also suggest adding John Watling’s Red Turtle Vodka or Pale Rum to your beverage, which is sure to brighten up this already sunny cocktail!

What We Eat It With

a plate of food on a table
Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours

In the Bahamas, we eat everything (and we mean everything) with Switcha! Our locally adored lime concoction is the perfect complement to any Bahamian meal, which is why we finish off our very first tasting on our signature Bites of Nassau Food Tour with an icy glass. Switcha adds a refreshing balance to fried foods like Cracked ConchConch Fritters, and grouper fingers, is a great accompaniment to warm stews and soups like Boiled Fish and Peas and Dumplings with Johnny Cake, and pairs with any local staple food such a Steamed Chicken with Peas n’ Rice, and baked Bahamian Macaroni n’ Cheese.

Where To Find Switcha On Menus In Nassau

a glass of orange juice
Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours

Switcha is so popular that you can find it in nearly every Bahamian restaurant and even gas stations and grocery stores throughout the island of New Providence. Entrepreneurs such as Mervin Sweeting at Switcha…It’s a Bahamian Thing have taken the local beverage to the international table by bottling it and shipping it around the world- it’s just that good! But before you snag a bottle from the cooler, we suggest taking a stroll around Nassau to try the drink freshly squeezed first. There are many places to find Switcha on bar menus, and with so many satisfying variations, your tastebuds will be more than happy to explore each unique flavour!

Bahamian Cookin’
Address: Market Street & Trinity Place
Hours: Mon-Sat, 7:30am – 4:00pm
Phone: (242) 328-0334
Web: Website Facebook

Tasty Teas
Address: #21 Delancey Street
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:00am – 4:30pm
Phone: (242) 322-2222
Web: Facebook

Athena Cafe
Address: Charlotte Street & Bay Street
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:30am – 6:00pm / Sun, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Phone: (242) 326-1296
Web: Facebook

Oh Andros
Address: West Bay Street at Arawak Cay
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12:00pm – 12:00am
Phone: (242) 326-7115
Web: Facebook

Daiquiri Shack
Address: West Bay Street, Cable Beach (across from The Melia Hotel)
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11:00am – 7:00pm
Web: Facebook

Studio Cafe
Address: West Bay Street
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun, 10:00am – 11:00pm
Phone: (242) 677-3991
Web: Facebook

How To Make Bahamian Switcha

a bowl of fruit on a cutting board
Credit: Choosing The Better Life

If you’re salivating just looking at those juicy limes and the thought of soon sipping a citrusy gulp, it’s about time you learn how to make Switcha for yourself! Luckily, one of our awesome Bites of Nassau Tour guides, Lexi loves the elixir so much, she makes it on a daily basis. So you can bet her Bahamian Switcha recipe is tried and true:

¾-1 cup fresh key lime juice (approximately 10 key limes- if key limes aren’t available, use 6-8 Persian limes instead)
¼ cup of lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
1 cup cane sugar
1 gallon water

Set aside 1 cup of water and boil. Once boiled, add sugar and dissolve to make a simple syrup. Using the remaining water, add key lime juice and lemon juice and mix well. Combine the simple syrup and key lime water and chill for 30-60 minutes. Serve cold with lime wedge for garnish.

Alternative Preparations:
For a Pink Switcha, add ¼ cup of grapefruit juice or strawberry juice to jazz up the flavors. To bulk up your drink, consider substituting the lemon juice with orange juice instead. If you’re looking for a livelier drink, adding an ounce or two of pale rum or vodka will definitely do the trick!