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This month’s box, A Cider A Day, was created using Traditional Dry Apple Cider, a beverage which has a storied place within the history of fermented drinks. There are countless ciders on the market right now, in countless flavours, but we encourage you, for the purposes of this box, to use a craft or small batch cider (preferably from a producer within your area) made in the traditional English-style. Ciders in this style tend to be bittersweet with the full-bodied taste of fresh apples, a touch of warming spices and a noticeably dry finish. Most good craft cideries will bottle a traditional dry apple cider in their product line, so see what your favour cider brand has to offer. Some of the brands we can suggest are:
Merridale Cidery (BC): Traditional Craft Cider
Left Field (BC): Big Dry
Nomad (BC): Traditional Dry
Uncommon Cider Co. (AB): Dry Craft Cider
Big Rock (AB): Rock Creek Dry Cider
Crossmount Cider Co. (SK): Flatlander Crisp
Brickworks (ON): Batch:1904 Dry Cider
KW Craft Ciders (ON): Sparkling Dry
West Avenue (ON): Heritage Dry
Cidre Mckeown (QB): Bone Dry
Union Libre (QB) Cocktail au Cidre
Le Somnambule (QB): Le Léger
These are just a few brands which will best work with the flavours found within this box, but is by no means an exhaustive list. To easily find many more quality craft cidery in your area, browse the Canadian Cider map at ciderguide.com.
As with grain, apples are intertwined with a lot of human history and culture, both temporally and geographically. And, as with grain, apples were inevitably (as is our habit) used by the many different groups who were familiar with this ubiquitous fruit, to manufacture alcohol. The pervasiveness of the apple has clouded the specific details of when and where apples were first turned into spirits, but archaeological evidence suggests that cider has been distilled since 1300 BCE.
Although the specifics are not fully understood, it seems there were two regions which were major contributors to the proliferation of ciders throughout the Old World: the Near East and the Western Mediterranean basin/Britain. The cider we are most familiar with today falls within the style that came out of the Western Mediterranean, particularly the style that was brewed in Britain during the 1st century CE. In the decades and centuries that followed the conquering of Britain by the Romans, the local style of brewing cider, which beforehand was found almost exclusively in British Isles, increased in popularity throughout Europe and eventually came to North America many years later.
This style of cider, known as heritage, or traditional style, is made predominantly from ‘spitter’ apples; apples which are too bitter to eat straight from the tree, like a crab apple. Although unappetizing in their raw form, when distilled, they produce a drink which is dry, bittersweet and full of tannins. As cider gained popularity in North America, more and more producers turned to apples with more sugars, such as Galas, resulting in ‘modern’ cider, which is much sweeter and fruit forward.
While preference of style is completely dependent on the drinker, the drier, more nuanced heritage style lends itself much better to creating cocktails than the sweeter modern style. This is because the drier profile better contrasts many of the other ingredients used in making cocktails, particularly sweeter components such as syrups. The flavours within the syrups are more noticeable when complimented by the dry cider, rather than being lost in the sea of sweet elements of modern cider. This contrast was the basis for the flavours found within this month’s Crafty Cocktails box, A Cider A Day.
The Crooked Stone Cider pairs warming root beer spice and tart plums against dry cider, with a touch of sweet honey and a creamy egg foam, resulting in a drink that is both warming and refreshing.
The Alpine Meadow Cider will fill your palette with a ton of lovely floral flavours, while sour lemon and spicy ginger add a kick that keeps you wanting more.
The Crimson Needles Cider has all the flavours to perfectly compliment any cold weather feast, as the seasonal flavours of rosemary and cranberry are balanced by the dry apples, honey and citrus.
As mentioned, this month’s box was created using Traditional-style Dry Apple Cider. While no specific brand has been recommended this month, as regional availability of local ciders across Canada varies greatly, there are some basic elements you should be looking for when selecting the right cider for your box. Find a cider that mentions ‘traditional’ or ‘dry’ in their name, contains only apple flavour (no other fruit combinations) and leans more towards a bittersweet profile with the full-bodied taste of fresh apples, a touch of warming spice and a noticeably dry finish. A list of suggested small-batch producers from across Canada and a link to a compendium of many more wonderful local cider producers can be found on our website in the featured box page for the “A Cider A Day”.
Crooked Stone Cider
As chilly winds sweep over steely grey landscapes and the winter season takes hold, we can take solace in the fact that tasty cocktails will keep us warm, especially when they incorporate the range of flavours this deliciously rich cider cocktail does. A spicy root beer and plum bitters from Bittered Sling mingles with tart muddled plums, sweet local honey from MOB Honey, sour lemon, and frothy egg white foam, all enhancing the dry qualities of the apple cider. This complex combination makes for a cocktail that is easy to drink but difficult to forget. Forget the cold; instead, prepare your palette for the warming flavour profiles of winter with a refreshingly dry apple cider twist.
CRIMSON NEEDLES CIDER
The house is warm, the lights of the candles flicker gold off the carefully set silverware and the smell of a succulent roast cooking in the oven wafts through the dinning room. You’re ready to sit down to a warm and inviting winter dinner when you realize you don’t have a drink to enjoy your meal with. Have no fear, this cider cocktail incorporates all the flavours to perfectly compliment your next cold weather feast. The classic pairing of cranberry, rosemary and lemon come together to bring out the warming qualities of apple cider, such as cinnamon and caramel, which are further enhanced by sweet golden honey. This drink has a deep, warming profile, yet the apple cider keeps it light and refreshing, making it the perfect compliment to any November dinner table.
ALPINE MEADOW CIDER
While the canvas of mountain flowers that covered the meadows of the alpine this summer now lay dormant beneath the high-altitude snow, their essence lives on in this drink. Playing on the floral elements of dry apple cider, this cocktail’s big botanical flavour comes from KVAS Wildflower Ginger syrup, while a fragrant and flowery nose greets you as you take the first sip, provided by a light spritz of orange blossom/rose water. Zesty notes of muddled ginger and fresh lemon juice amplify the floral profile of this thirst quenching cocktail, reminding us all that the majestic mountain wildflowers are not gone, they just are lying in wait for next summer, just underneath a blanket of fresh snow.
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