We counted 76 cider houses in New York State on the Cider Guide website, and surely many more are in the works. Well-made cider starts with excellent apples, fruits full of personality and sense of place, from carefully-grown orchards. For generations, New York has produced great apples, and today, from the Niagara border to Finger Lakes and the Hudson Valley, New York apples are being fermented into world-class cider. Hard cider, fermented from a fruit that has its origins in the ancient forests of Kazakhstan, has a centuries-old history that jumped continents as Europeans traveled west and settled here.
As the country grew, so did the number of orchards. In some cases, especially in the south, slaves became the orcardist and cider experts. Still, hard cider was considered a “drink of the forest” until the early 19th century, says Craig Cavallo, cider expert, co-owner of Golden Russet Café and Grocery in Rhinebeck, and co-author of “American Cider.”. A persistent myth that the ban killed cider ignores the fact that it was already in decline.
When the first commercial garden was planted in Esopus in 1838, beer, made from grains that could withstand much longer storage and shipping times than apples, had already supplanted cider as the most common beverage. Cider is newer to the market than wine or beer, and it continues to evolve, says Craig Cavallo, cider expert, owner of Golden Russet Café and Grocery in Rhinebeck and author of “American Cider. In your store's rotating cider selection, about half of the Hudson Valley and Catskills hail. Despite the rise of artisanal cider, misconceptions still persist.
But cider is made in a lot of different ways right now. You can really find a wide variety of products and styles, says Kimberly Kae, cider maker and co-founder of Metal House Cider at Esopus, with her husband, Matt DiFrancesco. Kae is one of the state's many smaller independent orchardists and manufacturers who are returning historic apple cultivars to artisanal cider. These fruits are rich in acidity, astringency and fragrance, and are more similar to the sour apples used by our colonial ancestors than the Galas and Red Delicious that fill grocery store shelves.
Kae has been grafting heirloom varieties such as Esopus Spitzenburg, Rhode Island Greening, Newtown Pippin and Gold Rush, one of her favorites, into her garden. He then uses the champenoise method, an ancient technique, to make dry and bubbly ciders. In the foothills of the Hudson Valley in Warwick, Pennings Farm Cidery makes single-varietal ciders from Braeburn, Golden Russet, Baldwin and Gold Rush, as well as a Wild Series from wild crab apples and Cyser, a mead-style cider co-fermented with local honey. Once a common drink in the early United States, cider began to disappear into the cultural landscape in the mid-19th century.
Its revival followed the Microbrew movement. Stores in the region are responding to innovation. At Golden Russet Café and Grocery, for example, Cavallo offers a rotating selection of around 20 ciders, half of which are from the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. Lighthouse Liquors in Athens has a highly edited collection of artisanal ciders, including Metal House and Sündstrom, based in Milan.
Because cider is newer to the market than wine or beer, Cavallo points out that it is still evolving and does not have a hard and fast definition. This can make it more difficult to separate the meh from the big. Awestruck Ciders, SidneyLindner Cider, Hamden Diner Brew Co. Press apples and you get sweet cider.
Add yeast and you'll make wonderfully complex hard cider, an elegant drink that's undergoing a renaissance, with farmers and producers working together to create location-based ferments that compete with any product derived from a vine. Consider it a return to form for a country where cider was once king, so ingrained in society that low-alcohol versions were served to children. Apple-rich New York State has seen an increase in cider makers, with more than 75 manufacturers and growing. Although the pioneering Wassail cider restaurant has closed, the city is increasingly home to a collection of restaurants and bars with a heavy emphasis on cider, the best of which offer a deep and diverse selection, excellent side food and memorable environments and services.
These are the best places to drink cider in New York. The 1869 deception of the Cardiff Giant, a three-meter-tall “petrified” man discovered in the north of the state, is the namesake of this pleasant bar that uniquely celebrates beer, wine, spirits and cider produced in New York State. As part of the approach, you'll discover a wide range of native ciders from such notable producers as Blackduck Cidery and Kite & String from Finger Lakes, served on tap and by the glass. The bottle list is equally commendable, with Aaron Burr's “forage ciders” and home-grown offerings, such as tropical and pine cider from Queens-based Descendant.
Don't skip so-called “happy meals,” like Stone Fence, a next-generation boilermaker who combines a can of Rootstock cider with a shot of Black Dirt apple. In this cozy tavern and pop, bottle shop owners Molly Bradford and Bill Pace live upstairs, you'll find seasonal decorations, vibrant murals, a grassy backyard and 16 drafts, including at least two dedicated to producers like Austin's Argus Cidery and Hudson Valley lore. mocking Graft, which focuses on wild ferments and beer-influenced formulations. Don't you float your boat either? No worries.
Covenhoven has two complete refrigerators dedicated to several dozen canned and bottled ciders, available to take away or, for a short uncork, to consume on site. Grab a baguette and some self-service charcuterie and cheese, especially the rich and buttery Gatekeeper from Crown Finish Caves, and bend down for the long haul. Fun ciders include Eric Bordelet's Poiré Authentique, made from pears in Normandy, France, and Graft's Canned Farm Flor, which has been made earthy and rustic thanks to wild yeast. Cornelia Street.
Fifth Avenue. New York Cider Company, located in the Finger Lakes region, makes unique hard ciders with wild apples and interesting and ripe relics from New York State. We believe in sustainable cultivation methods and traditional cider making techniques. Upstate New York is home to more than 80 cider houses and apple orchards that grow traditional cider apples from the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes region, as well as within the Adirondacks and Catskills.