Cider House Rules: 8 American Cider Bars To Visit Now

A renewed interest in artisanal hard cider has spawned a number of new and notable cider-focused bars and taprooms. 

Courtesy Bantam Cider
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Long ago, American cider houses were the norm. An early abundance of apples (and difficulties producing beer) meant that hard cider was the alcoholic drink preferred by the first colonists. Cider stayed popular along the eastern seaboard until Prohibition, which dealt the industry several blows at once. Some orchards were actually torched. Whole varietals of heirloom cider apples were destroyed or forgotten.

These days, craft cider is enjoying a resurgence, driven by a confluence of trends: the gluten-free craze, a renewed appreciation for all things artisan, and the farm-to-table movement. With cideries popping up across the country and a newfound consumer demand, a boom in cider bars and taprooms are a natural progression; they serve as a conduit for cider-hungry customers to try the latest experimental swig and an opportunity for the curious to test out the huge range of flavors ciders can express. They can be dry, sweet, spicy, hoppy, vinegary, or sour, or none of the above. To qualify as cider, a beverage must contain 50 percent apples—which means the other half can incorporate almost anything else.

The world of American cider remains an untamed realm compared to more established markets in England, Spain, and France. “The U.S. feels like the Wild West compared to Europe,” says Jennifer Lim, co-owner of New York cider bar Wassail. A lack of rules and agreed-upon procedures creates an atmosphere that favors risk-taking. For cider bars, this is great news; it keeps their menus from becoming dull or routine.

Here, we highlight eight cider bars and taprooms that are recovering a lost American tradition—and ushering the craft into the future.