Prima Cider's Most
Greg Hall's Virtue cider is all the rage in the windy city right now, but before Red Streak took the city by storm there was Prima, Chicago's original craft cidery. Their flagship cider, Most, is a crisp, piquant cider with a defined lemony character. A perceptible level of yeast from bottle-conditioning makes this versatile cider work especially well with food. Keep an eye out for new releases from Prima throughout the year.
Uncle John's Fruit House Winery's Melded
Probably the most traditional of the ciders available in Uncle John's lineup, Melded gets its crisp acidity from a blend of traditional American and English cider varieties. Serve this versatile Michigan-made cider with fall squashes or spring vegetables.
Thistly Cross's Whisky Cask Cider
Bourbon barrel aged ciders are everywhere these days, but Scotland's Thistly Cross goes one step further with this hearty, peat-infused cider aged in ex-Glengassaugh whisky casks. The full bodied cider holds up surprisingly well to the aggressive smokiness.
Colorado Cider Company's Ol' Stumpy
Ol' Stumpy is a farmhouse-style cider blended from New England cider apples and eating apples from the Midwest. The blend is further elevated by time spent in used Chardonnay barrels. The resulting cider is defined by the aging but not dominated, and lacks the buttery character that often plagues chardonnay-aged ciders. A fantastic cider to convert your wine-drinking friends.
Vander Mill's Chapman's Blend
A nod to the Midwest's apple heritage, Chapman's Blend combines Winesaps, Baldwins, Northern Spies, and Jonathans with culinary varieties for a semi-dry cider with more acid and structure than many we've tried from the region. Drinkable, yet complex, this is the cider to seek out from one of Michigan's rising cideries.
Farnum Hill's Dooryard 1214
Still ciders are on the rise and this limited release from Farnum Hill was our favorite at the Chicago Cider Summit. One of our tasters referred to it as the most "wine-like" cider of the festival. The blend of apple skin, quinine, and tropical flavors provide enough complexity to keep this cider interesting glass after glass while the pronounced tannic structure rounds out the experience.
Citizen Cider's Unified Press
We sang the praises of Citizen Cider's versatile bRosé last fall during our Thanksgiving cider-vs-beer battle but their flagship cider, Unified Press, is also worth noting. This is a no-nonsense Vermont cider perfect for those who want their drink to smack of fresh, apple flavor without the false sweetness of those made from big mass-produced brands. A pleasant tartness rounds the cider out for easy drinking.
AEppelrow's Appely Doux
Our favorite cider from Wisconsin's leading cidery, the Appely Doux is loaded with floral notes followed by a hint of honey. Its lively carbonation, reminiscent of a sparkling wine, makes this festive cider excellent for toasting or as an alternative in your next French 75 cocktail.
L'Hermitière Poiré de Normandie
This perry from Le Theil-sur-Huisne, France is probably one of the most interesting French perries that I have ever come across. The flavors seem contrasting at first, evoking mustard seeds, allspice, and pineapple, but somehow it comes together. This is an incredible pairing poiré in the right hands but it's definitely not for the uninitiated drinker.
Eden Ice Cider's Orleans
We've long praised Eden's Ice Ciders as some of the best in the country. Orleans is their first entry into the apéritif market. Unlike the sweeter ice cider, Orleans is fermented to complete dryness and then infused with a blend of Vermont-grown herbs. Floral, with pronounced apple and anise notes, Orleans is great over ice or as a more robust Lillet alternative.