The Want List: New York Ciders to Welcome Fall

Take your pick from these downstate selections, all crafted within two hours of the Big Apple.

Let’s compare apples to apples for a minute. If you didn’t know, New York falls only behind Washington as the country’s top-producing state of its favorite, non-native fruit, with a whopping output of 1.4 billion each year. Its plethora of orchards, paired with a 2012 farm brewing law that created a new license for agriculture-driven fermentations, made the road to hard cider a lot easier — more than 100+ cideries and meaderies, according to Empire State Development, now call New York home.

Moreover, New York grows more apple varieties than any other state, boasting more than 11 million trees composed of dozens of heirloom and hybrid cultivars. That means variety from grove to glass — yielding crisp, dried bottles with far more flavor depth than the “boozy apple juice” many associate with the beverage.

Go ahead, have a taste:

Rose Hill Farm Ferments | 2021 Kitchen Sink
Red Hook

If cruising labels in the natural wine shop ranks high on your list of pastimes, this one’s for you. Rose Hill’s artful ciders do their best to capture, in form and flavor, the vibe of their cidery itself, located just up Route 9 from the village of Red Hook as it bobs through the hills towards Hudson. This unfiltered pét-nat, packaged in a clear, large format bottle, blends bittersweet culinary apples with more familiar heirloom varietals, yielding a dry, fresh, and fruity sip with a citrus crispness and a light tropical funk — break out your stemware for this one.

Thompson’s Cider Mill | Heirloom Blend

Sometimes the best things are right in your backyard. If you’re Geoff Thompson, that couldn’t be more true. The Westchester publicist built an authentic cider mill next to his house — on the grounds of a heritage orchard he’s spent decades nursing back to life — and countless locals make a seasonal pilgrimage to meet his press. Much of Thomson’s harvest goes to zero-proof productions, making the hard ciders a sought-after commodity. Grab them on site by reservation, at select bottle shops, or on tap at local favorites like Climbing Wolf in Dobbs Ferry and Pleasantville’s Soul Brewing Co.

Wölffer Estate | No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider

Can’t break the rosé-all-day habit even as the leaves start turning? Fall back on a four-pack of this stuff. When Joey and Marc Wölffer were kids, their father’s winemaker, Roman Roth, made them sparkling apple “wine” to sip while the adults drank unleaded Hamptons juice. Their fond childhood memories inspired this 6.9% abv creation, produced with apples from Bridgehampton orchards owned by Southampton Town’s pioneering Halsey family.

Southold Cider | Jalapeño Cider

Maybe you’ve had North Fork wines, but have you tried North Fork cider? Started by two home fermentation enthusiasts by way of New York City and Denver, this label’s bold creations are all sips you’ll really get a kick out of — but this one especially. It turns out dumping a heaping batch of jalapeños into the secondary fermentation of hard apple cider is a match you didn’t know you needed, and can’t help but want again and again. Like all Southold Cider bottles, it’s finished using the champagne carbonation method and has nothing unnatural added — just pure, unfiltered goodness.

Lil Scrumpy | Kings Highway Cider

Named for the colonial-era cow path-turned-still extant South Brooklyn road, this roadside cider shack makes its home at McEnroe Organic Farm, located along Route 22 between Amenia and Millerton. And while you’re more likely to see their canned offerings in the wild, like their “Ginger Snap” (with ginger and lemongrass), and Berkshire Porch-pleaser (an Arnold Palmer of sorts, with black tea from Harney & Sons), their bottled stuff is worth hunting down — like “Lil Scrumpy,” fermented entirely with wild-foraged Dutchess County apples and pears. It’s crisp and dry, with a good hit of tannins on the palate.

Putting down new roots?

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