Thanks to brands like Magners, cider has become a big summer drink.
In fact, the 3rd most popular in the UK:
- Pimms 26%
- Beer/Lager 24%
- Cider 14%
- Soft Drink 12%
- Rose Wine 5%
- White Wine 5%
- Prosecco 4%
- Gin and Tonic 3%
- Champagne 1%
- Vodka and Tonic 1%
- Other 1%
Cider – that most teenage of alcoholic drinks – has suddenly become cool again.
Artisan producers are popping up across the country, and an increasing number of cider festivals are appearing on the summer calendar.
A fashionable drink like Magners is without doubt a far cry from the cider of the 1990s which was consumed by three less than cool social groups: Teenagers necking ‘White Lightening’ in the park, elderly farmers finding bits of squirrel in home made scrumpy, or Levellers fans.
Today’s British ciders are increasingly becoming as sophisticated as wine, with specific regions, apples, styles and production methods spearheading its revival.
Connoisseur’s will immediately say Thatchers is the big name in apple ciders with full flavours separating the men from the boys. There are slightly lighter apple ciders such as Waitrose’s superb Cox’s Apple cider to try if Thatchers proves too much on your first cider encounter.
For a special occasion, i.e. not in the pub garden, it’s worth trying a vintage or ‘dated cider’ which a lot of top end off licences have started stocking. A safe start might well be Henry Weston 2007 Vintage Cider; well safe in terms of taste but alcohol wise it’s a whopping 8.2 per cent, so leave the car at home. In some circles Pear Cider or ‘Perry’ is deemed a more refined drink than its apple cousin (it’s lighter and less sweet) so if you really want to push the boat out try a bottle of the rather flashy Kopparberg.
Of course no exploration of the cider world would be complete without mentioning Cider Festivals. Now before you start thinking about old man’s scrumpy and dogs with string for leads again, these events are way more exciting than their beer equivalent: For starters there are girls there. Secondly they nearly always take place in beautiful parts of the country such as Bath and involve everyone being legless by mid afternoon… if you can’t pull there then you may as well give up.
And talking of festivals one of the best kept secrets of Glastonbury is the ‘cider bus’ at the back of the main stage serving what could take over from beer as the new winter drink; Hot Spiced Cider.