Will this be the summer of cider? We think so. Last year, American hard cider production surpassed craft beer growth, climbing to a $172 million market share. Compare that 2009’s paltry $35 million cider market, and you’ve got something to celebrate. Bars across the country are indeed raising a glass. But why cider in the summer? Versatility. It can be still and fruity like wine or sparkling like champagne. And Spanish ciders from Asturias can be tart and thirst-quenching, reminiscent of Belgian lambic or German Berliner Weisse. From Seattle to Somerville, MA, these establishments are using America’s oldest alcoholic potable in creative cocktails, and pouring seasonal varieties that would make early adopters like John Adams flush with pride. Here are 7 places to taste American ingenuity this summer.
1. Portland, OR: Bushwhacker Cider
This Southeast spot has been pouring the sweet and sour stuff since September 2010. Bushwhacker brews 150 gallons of house cider onsite, and has eight rotating taps and more than 280 bottles spanning Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the Northeastern United States. 1212-D SE Powell. 503-445-0577
2. Asheville, NC: Urban Orchard
Opened September 2013, Urban Orchard is a fruit-forward addition to the city’s ardent craft beer scene. Its ciders are brewed in-house using apples from nearby Henderson and a four-barrel production tank located directly below the taproom. Want to get in on the action? Call in advance to schedule a private tour. 210 Haywood Road. 828-774-5151
3. Indianapolis, IN: New Day Craft
Brett Canady and Tia Agnew have been kickin’ it old school-style since 2006. They serve craft mead and cider in a sleek tasting room off of Fountain Square. There are three year-round draft pours and two specialty ciders like Vicious Cider, aged in bourbon barrels and infused with sorghum. Those who are long on thirst but short on time can sample New Day’s wares in cider-mead cocktails. The Secret Garden is made with dry Gold Rush cider, currant-infused mead, fresh mint and lemon bitters. 1102 Prospect St. 888-632-3379
4. Seattle, WA: Capitol Cider
This old-fashioned Capitol Hill watering hole is heavy on dark wood, exposed brick and fermented booze. There are some 30 hard ciders on tap, plus a full bar and pub grub like battered local cod and cider-glazed chicken wings. 818 East Pike Street. 206-397-3564
5. Somerville, MA: The Kirkland Tap & Trotter
Helmed by Boston demi-god and Food Republic columnist Tony Maws – his Craigie on Main is about one more James Beard Award away from becoming an official stop on the duck tour – the new-ish Kirkland brings big, meaty flavors to an airy space in Somerville. The gastropub’s four rotating draft ciders include local stars Bantam and Downeast, as well as imports like Normandy’s Eric Bordelet Sidre. 425 Washington Street. 857-259-6585
6. Julian, CA: Julian Hard Cider
Located in a gold rush town 60 miles east of San Diego, Julian’s cidery and taproom operates under the ethos “American to the Core.” The owners are American Legion, so military personnel sip the three house-made drafts for free. All Julian ciders are based on 17th century American and British-style recipes, and are available for purchase in bottles on-site and online. 4470 Julian Road. 760-765-2500
7. Chicago, IL: The Northman
Scheduled to open later this summer or early fall, Chicago’s first dedicated cider pub is being installed in the former Copper House space by the team from Fountainhead and Bar on Buena. There will be over 100 ciders in casks, bottles and on draft, plus a menu of cider-friendly grub from Fountainhead chef Cleetus Friedman. That’s change we can believe in. 4337 North Lincoln Avenue. No phone yet.
Jonathan M. Katz contributed to this story