A drink once called “English champagne,” hard apple cider has had its highs and lows in popularity both here and across the pond. Last week in The Guardian, Pete Brown wrote that hard cider made by smaller producers using traditional methods and a higher juice content has recently been taking over English pubs. Can American bars be very far behind?
According to Brown, hard cider is best consumed warm, with a shot of Somerset cider brandy. But in the article, British chef Mark Hix pointed out that cider can also be a useful ingredient in the kitchen. “If you’re going to cook with British ingredients, cider … can offer a substitute for French brandy, sherry, port, even champagne,” he told Brown, demonstrating how to make sardines marinated in cider vinegar and veal cutlets flamed in cider brandy.
After getting us excited about this often-overlooked libation, Brown kindly provides a guide to apple cider products around the world. Of the U.S., he writes that our apple cider tradition is based on English ciders, but since we aren’t blessed with England’s bittersweet, tannic cider apples, our ciders are mostly sparkling and served chilled rather than warm (not that he means to say that they’re inferior to English ciders, or anything).
With cold cider as our main variety, we might have to wait until summer to see how the drink fares at bars in the city. Seamus Mullen, the chef at Tertulia, a restaurant that takes inspiration from Spanish cider houses, told Fork in the Road last summer that he doesn’t expect cider to be the hottest item on the menu anytime soon. Soon he might have to eat his words: If the establishment of New York’s first Cider Week, which took place last October, is any indication of the drink’s rise in popularity, its future as the craft booze of choice looks pretty bright.
Where to get hard cider: Macelleria (48 Gansevoort Street, 212-741-2555) serves a lightly effervescent, dry cider from Eve’s Cidery. Tinto Fino (85 First Avenue, 212-254-0850), a Spanish wine shop in the East Village, sells hard cider from Spain. The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway, Astoria, Queens; 718-777-0913) has a sizable selection of cider from the U.S., France, and Spain available for purchase.