Cider Week Turns New York Into the Boozy Big Apple

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on October 11, 2012 8:49am 

ASTORIA AND LONG ISLAND CITY — Move over, Spaten and Sam Adams — cider is back in town!

The apple-based beverage, which for many years has been relegated to dorm rooms and taken a back seat to beer in watering holes around the city, is now gaining popularity in New York.

To celebrate, more than 180 restaurants, bars, shops and markets in the Big Apple and Hudson Valley — including Alobar in Long Island City and The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria — will participate in The Second Annual Cider Week. It kicks off Friday and will run, along with various Oktoberfest festivities, until Oct. 21. 

That's double the number of venues that participated in last year's inaugural event, a change organizers say is attributable to an increased interest in local products.

They also said that cider has less alcohol than wine and is not as heavy as beer. In addition, producers have been touting the beverage as being gluten-free for those who have an allergy to wheat and some other grains.

"We take Celiac Disease seriously, and since Woodchuck has always, and only, been made from apples (not wheat, barley or rye) none of our cider varieties have ever contained gluten," the Vermont-based company says on its website.

Restaurants participating in Cider Week “will feature regional, orchard-based hard ciders through special tastings, flights, events, pairings, and classes in order to build awareness and appreciation for this reemerging traditional American beverage,” organizers wrote in a brochure.

The Queens Kickshaw, which already serves about 30 ciders on a daily basis, will dedicate four of their beer taps to cider during their Cider Week Tap Takeover. Among the ciders they are planning to serve are: Harvest Moon Four Screw, Farnum Hill Dooryard and Fox Barrel Pear Cider.

"Cider is an amazing beverage on its own and has been for centuries," said Ben Sandler, one of the restaurant's owners, noting that cider has been more and more popular. "It's a huge part of our menu."

Several of the ciders featured during the festivities are made in upstate New York, while others come from nearby Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

On Oct. 21 and Oct. 22, the restaurant is hosting a Cider Dinner. Chef Youngsun Lee created a $55, five-course prix fixe meal, which will include kimchi lasagna (smoked tofu, chickpea ragout) and Wickson crab apple cobbler. Each course will be paired with a different cider.

For Cider Week, Alobar in Hunters Point is launching its first Apple Festival. Chef Ian Kapitan will also offer a prix fixe dinner that will be paired with ciders (a three-course menu costs $35, and $50 with cider pairings).

The menu will rotate daily. Among the dishes Kapitan is planning to serve are apple cider-glazed baby back ribs, squash and apple soup and candied apple cider bacon popcorn.

It will also be offering special apple cocktails and beverages.

There are also dozens of restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn participating in the event.

On Saturday, there will be a tasting of international ciders, apple spirits, cheese and charcuterie at Factory on Kent in Williamsburg.

And on Oct. 16, there will be an Applepalooza tasting with calvados, hard cider and apple wine at Astor Center in NoHo.

Cider Week was initiated by Glynwood, an agricultural non-profit based in Putnam County, to support apple orchard farmers and to revive hard cider, which had been a traditional American beverage for many years, but has been overlooked since Prohibition.

To learn more, go to: ciderweekny.com.

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