Skip the pumpkin beer. Have a cider.
Even though people have been enjoying apple cider for ages (we’re talking waaaaaay before Jesus), cider has only begun attracting a major following in America in the last few years. It’s partially because of everyone’s obsession with your old friend gluten, and partially as a ripple effect from the craft beer boom—and good news for drinkers everywhere, really. Particularly when it’s not in its old, hyper-sweetened state, alcoholic cider is both wildly pleasant to drink and super-approachable.
“One of the best parts of cider is that even the best are not that expensive, and are under $20,” cider expert Dan Pucci told us. Pucci wears a lot of cider-related hats, including that of beverage director of Wassail, a cider bar and restaurant in New York. With fall upon us, it’s the perfect time of the year to get your cider on while wearing some flannel. If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to make your own cider at home, follow Pucci’s guidance on what bottles will be best for your tastes.
For someone who thinks they hate cider
Cider comes in a range of styles, meaning there’s usually something for everyone—even those who think they hate it. “Most people hate cider because they think it is too sweet, but much of the growing parts of the cider world are pushing for drier cider,” Pucci says. This is great news for those of us who drank syrupy Woodchuck in college. “Ciders from the Finger Lakes like Eve’s or Redbyrd are dry, mineral, and wine-like in their character. Snowdrift in Washington make robust rich bitter ciders that have all the savory flavors and textures of a red wine. While on the other hand, people like Graft and Reverend Nat’s are making sour beer inspired ciders that are pushing the edge of what cider is.”
For someone who drinks IPAs
People who are into bitter and hoppy beers have a lot of different cider options. “Often times the best hopped ciders are more delicate and pristine and do not have the weight or bitterness like an IPA,” Pucci says. “The cider I think that hit it is best is Oliver’s at the Hop, which is both bitter enough with the English apples and has the floral character to it.” And, listen, if you’re swapping out your beer for cider, you might be doing something good for your 2018 Summer Bod™.
For the cider lover looking for something new
For your BBQ
This tailgate season, grab a cider that can stand up to the sauce. “I want something rich and textured,” Pucci says. If your meat calls for vinegar-based sauces, Pucci recommends Alpenfire Ember or Kite & String Rose. “The delicate red fruit would be great against the fatty acid of [vinegar sauces],” Pucci tells us. Eden Dry, a full-bodied, tannic cider, is your best bet to match sweet sauces. If you’re going for un-sauced brisket, pair it with E.Z. Orchard Semi Dry. “This round and rich French-style cider is heavy on the bitter tannins and the weight,” Pucci says. “It is all about overripe fruit and mushrooms would be great with this.”
For someone who just wants to drink whiskey
After you’ve thrown back a few bottles of Pucci’s recommended ciders, cap off the night with something cider-adjacent—specifically, Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask. It’s the first whiskey to be finished in hard apple cider casks and it just hit the States this fall. The Irish distillery took its signature whiskey and threw it in a bourbon oak cask previously used to wildly ferment apple cider. It’s a fall-friendly marriage of two beautiful Irish beverage traditions, resulting in a whiskey with a richer, deeper flavors—plus a wink of cider.
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