Everything You Want to Know About Cider

The apple beverage—sparkling, still, dry, or fruity—is having a moment.

Photo by Scott Suchman

Up until the 1920s, hard cider was widely popular in the Mid-Atlantic. Unlike beer and wine, it was easy to produce from hardy back-yard trees—a crop targeted during Prohibition, when many orchards were destroyed. The beverage’s popularity was slow to return: Apple trees take five to nine years to grow, too long for a thirsty country.

Now cider is making a comeback—especially in artisanal form, as apple growers turn their attention to fermenting and leaders in the microbrew movement discover another niche industry. Of course, the renaissance isn’t all about retro affectation. Producers are heeding the demand for a gluten-free alternative to beer. (Cider was celiac-friendly before allergies were even a thing.) Ready to pop a cap, or cork, and start guzzling? Here’s what you need to know.

Keep an Eye Out for . . .

DC’s first cider bar, Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar (300 Florida Ave., NW) is set to debut in Truxton Circle this February. The ambitious venture—its name is pronounced “ahn-cho”—comes from industry vets Sam Fitz (Meridian Pint) and Tim Prendergast (Boundary Road), both certified cicerones who discovered Basque cider through their passion for sour beer. Spanish offerings will be the focus of the place, though it will also pour local varieties, including Anxo’s own. A production facility is slated for next fall.

Snob Factor

Just as there’s craft beer and Bud Light, cider nerds make a distinction between small-batch and the cloyingly sweet, mass-produced “macro-ciders” typically found on grocery shelves. The latter category doesn’t follow traditional methods, instead combining apples and sugar to make alcohol and diluting the result with water for a consistent ABV (alcohol by volume).

Check Out More of Our Cider Guide:

Which Hard Cider Should You Try?

Photo courtesy of Distillery Lane Ciderworks.

Best Cideries in Virginia and Maryland

Photograph courtesy of Albemarle CiderWorks.

5 Delicious Apple Drinks That Aren’t All Cider

Photograph via Flickr user N i c o l a.

If You Absolutely Love Cider, Go to These Washington Restaurants

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

You Can Now Get a Limited-Edition Bottle of House Cider From These DC Restaurants

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Best Apples to Use to Make Cider at Home

Photograph via iStock.
This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.