Now that the markets are bursting with summer berries and stone fruits, it’s tempting to forget about ’dem apples ’til the fall, when they’re as crispy as they are prolific. But why not enjoy them in a glass? Artisanal hard ciders are making a strong comeback nationwide and Virginia, with its vast variety of apples, grew from having two cideries to seven (and counting) in the past year. In cider’s colonial heyday, John Adams drank it every day with breakfast. While it’s mighty tasty on its own, cider also makes a refreshing summertime cocktail perfect for thunderstorm-watchin’ and front-porch sippin’.
Here are a handful of favorite recipes from some of our area’s cideries.
Albemarle Ciderworks, a family-run cidery in North Garden grew from, naturally, an apple orchard that boasts a dozen or so heritage varieties of apples. The Sheltons produce four varieties of cider that range from dry to semi-dry. Here’s their take on the Parisian classic, kir royale.
Kir Royal Pippin
Put 1 teaspoon crème de cassis liqueur into a champagne flute. Top with Albemarle Ciderworks Royal Pippin cider and garnish with a lemon twist.
Bold Rock Cider just south of Nellys-ford is one of the newest kids on the cider block, with a tasting room due to open next year, but with distribution of their six-packs starting this month. Owner John Washburn’s had the land since 1985, but only recently found consulting cidermaker Brian Shanks in New Zealand to bring his cider to “fruition.” Choose their Virginia Draft or their Virginia Apple for this punch.
Combine 3 to 4 bottles of Bold Rock Cider,
1/2 cup Cointreau, 1/2 cup brandy, and 1/2 bottle chilled soda water and serve in punch cups.
Originally built in 1764, Castle Hill Cider in Keswick was the home of Colonel Thomas Walker, guardian and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Today, it serves as a bucolic site for weddings and special events and produces four styles of dry and semi-dry ciders. This cocktail doesn’t bother comparing apples to oranges—it combines them.
Mix 3 ounces orange juice with 2 ounces vodka in a highball filled with ice. Top with cider and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur is made with apples harvested from three different orchards and poured into small batches that exhibit the uniqueness of each apple variety. Cidermaker Diane Flynt makes four straight ciders plus two ciders combined with apple brandy and is passionate about every step from pruning and picking to pouring and marketing. Gin gets a different kind of juice in this invention of Diane’s.
Summer Cider Cocktail Pitcher
Make a simple syrup by bringing 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 4 large sprigs of thyme to a simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool completely and remove the thyme. Add 1/4 cup gin, juice of one lemon, and 2 to 4 chopped plums (or other seasonal fruit) to the simple syrup and chill for at least two hours. Just before serving, add one bottle of First Fruit or Serious Cider. Serve in a cocktail glass or champagne flute.
Located in Free Union, Potter’s Craft Cider is a farmhouse-style hard cider made using Virginia-grown cider apples and traditional production methods. Owners Tim Edmond and Dan Potter experiment with different yeasts, but stick to only one variety, selling it to about 10 restaurants who serve it on draft and about 20 retailers that carry it by the bottle (including Whole Foods, which sells it in refillable growlers). Here’s a cocktail obsession amongst the local foodie crowd.
Stir 1 oz. Lairds Apple Brandy (or bourbon), 5 port cherries, and 2 teaspoons port cherry liquid in the bottom of an ice-filled lowball. Fill with Potter’s Craft Cider and swizzle.