Now when we say “old school” we are not just referring to throwing back Cider Jack in high school behind the bleachers, because beer tasted yucky. Nope, we’re talking real old school, like Pilgrim old school. Cider has a rich history in America. In fact, the Pilgrims started making hard cider as soon as the apple trees they planted started to bear fruit. Up until the 19th century, cider was the most popular alcoholic drink - the fall of cider happened when farmers discovered that they could make beer cheaper from grain. So like any patriotic American, we could not let a piece of our history die – we went in search of frosty hard cider…to honor our past and drink to an American classic (ok fine, we were thirsty and the cider they were selling at the farmers market in Union Square was non-alcoholic).
d.b.a, 41 1st Ave, between 2nd and 3rd
Hard Cider: Doc’s Draft (tap), $4
The Doc’s Draft, created right here in New York State, was refreshing and bold. It was dry with balanced acidity (could have been a little higher) and bright apple and pear notes. It’s the perfect drink for a crisp fall afternoon.
Croxley Ales, 28 Ave B, between 2nd and 3rd
Hard Ciders: Wood Chuck Draft Cider, Pear flavored (bottle) $5, and Woodpecker (draft) $5
We learned a valuable lesson at Croxley’s – the only flavor cider should come in is apple. We tried the Wood Chuck Draft Cider that was pear flavored to mix things up – bad idea. We found that it was syrupy sweet and tasted like a pear Jolly Rancher (if they made that flavor). We quickly moved on to the Woodpecker draft, which was medium-sweet with balanced acidity and bright apple notes. This cider lacked complexity but was smooth and easy to drink - probably popular with the kids hanging out behind the bleachers.
St. Dymphnias, 118 St. Marks Place, between Ave A and 1st.
Hard Cider: Strongbow (draft – made in England) $3 - happy hour special
Ok, so it’s not made in America, but we needed a point of comparison. Now we are not going to say that we like this hard cider better than the American ones…but damn those Brits, how did they make it taste so good? This hard cider was dry, with crisp acidity and refreshing apple notes.
We didn’t get to try the Original Sin Hard Cider that was rated top American hard cider by the New York Times, but our quest is not over. Hard ciders are growing in popularity and it’s easy to see why. They are refreshing, diverse in style and a great way to mix things up – plus they go well with turkey. Those Pilgrims were on to something.