You’ve heard of Comic-Con, but did you know there's a CiderCon? It’s an annual gathering in Portland, Oregon, that brings together cider makers and fans. If it sounds a bit too nerdy, that's because it is—but this year's gathering revealed some mindboggling news: Retail sales of cider topped the $1 billion mark for last year alone, and cider drinking in America has more than tripled in the past few years. Those are startlingly huge numbers, but we're not surprised: Easy to sip and refreshing on its own, cider also makes beautiful cocktails. In recent days, we've stopped in at a few lounges, speakeasies, pubs and hotel bars to try out the coolest new creations featuring this fall favorite.
The Slow Like Turtle at Nitecap, New York City
The light anise and herbal notes of Green Chartreuse, a little kiss of honey syrup, two hard dashes of Angostura bitters and 1.5 ounces of Dudognon 10 Year Cognac get all stirred up together and then topped with a sparkling apple cider at NYC's brand new Nitecap. This beloved bar recently moved, but only a block and a half down the road. It’s now at 151 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, where its serious mixology talent meets a sultry, dreamy basement location.
The Double BLK Apple Toddy at The New York Edition hotel Lobby Bar, NYC
Grand and opulent are words that immediately come to mind when you step into The Lobby Bar at The New York Edition hotel, where the ceilings tower above a dark and dreamy mix of grey accents and toffee lighting. You’ll find a chilled Toddy here, mixing the familiar bite of apple cider with an elegant and subtle Earl Grey tea-infused Jameson Black Barrel whiskey and the richness of Hennessy Black Cognac. It’s a gorgeous reason to stop shopping and start drinking on a crisp fall afternoon.
The Teacher’s Pet at Capitol Cider, Seattle
You'll want to check out the Cider Flight when visiting Capitol Cider, a bar entirely devoted to ciders, with more than 200 labels offered in the two-story bar. One of their top cocktails this fall is the Teacher’s Pet, with Eden Iced Cider’s Orleans Herbal. Orleans Herbal is actually a bitter aperitif made from late season apples. The bartenders add in Bellewood Honeycrisp vodka, and honey syrup with a topper of Champagne. This is one you won’t find anywhere else, to be sure.
The Places That I’ve Never Been at RiNo Yacht Club, Denver
This cocktail wins the name award, and features La Favorite Agricole Blanc rum, Madeira, a premium banana liqueur, a Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, lemon juice, and a dry Normandy cider. “The banana liqueur helps to accent the Madeira’s caramel nuttiness, but also plays really well with the funky, tropical rum,” says bartender McLain Hedges. “It’s not too heavy on the alcohol, but is very complex, yet comforting.”
The Jack of Hearts at Polite Provisions, San Diego
Polite Provisions has 20 rotating beer taps as well, and bartender/proprietor Erick Castro says "we do our best to incorporate them into our cocktails when it makes sense.” Next time you’re in San Diego, don’t miss his simple, delicious combination of Calvados, fresh lime juice and grenadine, shaken and topped with two ounces of Julian Hard Cider.
The Pear Harvest Cocktail at Harvest, Las Vegas
We love this one for the garnish: a ripe and charred, brûléed pear. But there’s a lot to love underneath, too. This shaken drink has Grey Goose La Poire vodka, Rekorderlig pear cider, Pallini Limoncello, Madagascar vanilla syrup and prickly pear juice. The fruit-filled cocktail is right at home in this farmers-market-styled venue, whose seasonal, super-fresh ingredients offers a healthy spin on the usual Sin City fare.
The High Five at Odd Duck, Austin
If you don’t think of Texas as cider country, perhaps you should. Argus Cidery makes several standout options, including their Ciderkin label. At Odd Duck, there’s an excellent cocktail made with the cider: the High Five. Ciderkin’s sweet fruit, acid and carbonation gets mixed in with 1835 Whiskey, Luxardo Maraschino and Carpano sweet vermouth to make this memorable drink.
The Fairytale at Compére Lapin at The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, New Orleans
Is it too late in the season for a slushie? Never! Our favorite comes courtesy of the Big Easy and Compére Lapin’s bartenders, who blend fresh-pressed apple cider with pimento dram, Cherry Heering, lemon, rum and honey. It’s frosty, bracing, beautiful and delicious and will be on the menu till the thermometer tips its hat to winter.
The Adam & Eve at Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, California
You first get a great waft of mint from the garnish, before sipping this mix of Applejack, bourbon, fresh lemon juice, Averna and cider toped with fresh apple slices. The drink pairs perfectly with the menu of seasonal California ingredients and Italian dishes, served under a rough wood-beam ceiling in an open space. If you’re seated at the central communal table, don’t be surprised if ordering one of these pretty darlings sets off a chain reaction.
The Beetlejuice at Bacchus Bar, Portland, OR
At this bar, which celebrates retro drinks and games and offers pool, shuffleboard, and even 1980’s video games, bartender Bryan Galligos makes a stunning cider cocktail: He mixes Calvados apple brandy with a house-made rosemary syrup, lemon juice and fresh basil leaves, then adds a full ounce of apple cider and strains the bright, refreshing mix into a martini glass. Want to try it yourself at home? Here goes:
Courtesy of Bartender Bryan Galligos
Bacchus Bar, Portland, OR
1.5 oz. calvados apple brandy
1 oz. apple cider
0.5 oz. rosemary simple syrup
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
5-7 basil leaves
Combine all five ingredients, shake and strain into martini glass.
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