By Nick Thomas
Traditionalists be warned—fruit-infused ciders are all the rage of the New World. Shove your traditional apple to the back of your fridge for a bit (it will be patiently waiting for you when you return) and make room for a different kind of delicious in your fridge. The sweetness and liveliness of fresh farm cherries offers a welcome sidestep to the apple-centered cider market—cherries are kindred spirits to apples, often grown in temperate regions where apples thrive. On the more dry side of these ciders, they pair well with chicken, fish and cheeses, while the sweeter cherry ciders pair well with desserts—or heck, they could even be dessert themselves sometimes. Never be ashamed to show your sweet side.
1) Atlas Cider Co. Hard POM-Cherry Cider (Bend, OR)
ABV: 8 percent
Highlights: Atlas is a family-owned company run by the philosophy that most ciders are either too dry or too sweet. Its Hard POM-Cherry Cider straddles that line delicately by balancing the sweetness of cherry juice with the tartness of pomegranate juice.
2) McKenzie’s Hard Ciders Black Cherry Hard Cider (West Seneca, NY)
ABV: 5 percent
Highlights: After 35 years of beverage industry experience, Lenny Ciolek decided to hop on the craft beverage bandwagon with McKenzie’s Hard Ciders. Its Black Cherry Hard Cider is on the sweeter side with a strong cheery finish and full body.
3) Original Sin Cherry Tree Hard Cider (New York, NY)
ABV: 7 percent
Highlights: Original Sin’s Cherry Tree Hard Cider balances out the tartness of heirloom apples with the sweetness of cherries. The company was founded by Gidon Coll, who started an orchard at his family’s old dairy farm in upstate New York that now features 80 heirloom varieties.
4) Julian Hard Cider Cherry Bomb (Julian, CA)
ABV: 6.99 percent
Highlights: Like other cherry ciders, Julian Hard Cider is apple-based but cherry-flavored. This cider uses only Montmorency cherries, which are naturally high in antioxidants, that give a sweet finish to its dry, crisp start. With just a hair under 7 percent alcohol, this “bomb” will surely be a blast.
5) Anthem Cider Northwest Cherry Cider (Salem, OR)
ABV: 5 to 6.9 percent
Highlights: Choosing organically grown fruit (when economically feasible) and buying from orchardists they know, Anthem’s Northwest Cherry Cider uses a blend of sweet-bing and tart-pie cherries to make this earthy, semi dry and medium tartness hard cider.