Whether you are sticking to the classics of turkey or still in shock your father is changing it up with roasting prime rib, there’s a cider for each component of your Thanksgiving meal. We’ve asked cider industry professionals for their favorites in the past, but this year, we’re picking out the drinks ourselves. Give thanks with cider this turkey day, opting for one of these meal-appropriate sippers.
Virtue Cider Mezzo Spritz
Start the festivities off on the right foot with a cider spritz. Earlier this year, Michigan’s Virtue Cider launched its Mezzo Spritz, a variation on the classic Italian aperitif. This low-proof rendition is cider, sparkling water and botanicals, where the vino-version is Prosecco, sparkling water and typically Aperol or Campari liqueur. At only 3.5% ABV, this is the perfect start to a day/evening of imbibing while stuffing your face — keeping it light, bright and bubbly with plenty of apple (and citrus) flavors.
1911 Established Cranberry
For five generations the same family has operated Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in Lafayette, New York. With the addition of 1911 Established — the year the family took on the property — the company now produces cider and spirits with a tasting room and tavern to enjoy both. This cranberry-infused cider uses fruit from the farm, plus New England-grown cranberries to produce the semisweet, high-octane (6.9% ABV) sipper that toggles between sweet and tart, bright and rich. Laser-sharp acidity and astringency from both fruits makes it an easy pairing for any rich Thanksgiving eats, but particularly turkey.
Noble Cider The Spice Merchant
Naturally, baking spices in Thanksgiving dishes lend themselves to pairing quite nicely with baking spices in ciders. The Spice Merchant from Noble Cider in Asheville, North Carolina, brings said spice with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and anise, plus freshly brewed AppalaChai! tea. Try this semisweet cider next to a sweet potato or yams dish, or mixed with rum and topped with a cinnamon stick.
Gowan’s Heirloom Ciders Sierra Beauty
This single-variety sipper showcases an apple that was thought to be extinct, save for a few trees on Gowan’s estate family orchard in California’s Anderson Valley. A unique bottling, the still, wine-like Sierra Beauty is highly acclaimed, with accolades from competitions all over the country as well as this publication. Serve this full-bodied cider alongside a cheese plate where the apple aromatics and orange-fruited, juicy-acid flavor profile will pop. The cider’s savory qualities would also make it as a contender to pair with a salad or green beans.
Floréal Cider III
Buzzy sommelier-winemaker Nate Ready of Oregon’s Hiyu Wine Farm teamed up with the organic-and biodynamic-certified Mt. Hood Organic Farm to make a cider from the Hood River Valley property. This is the third iteration of their Floréal cider, comprised of 16 varieties from the 2016 harvest. After pressing, the cider ferments naturally, ages for a year in barrels and is bottled with fresh juice from the following year’s pressing to cause secondary fermentation, resulting in lovely, delicate bubbles. Dry and driven by perfumed apple and earthy minerality, the creamy mousse sets up the complexity while a flick of acid and tannin embrace the finish. Like Champagne and potato chips, pair this cider with your mashed taters.
Blue Bee Cider Firecracker
Though this cider is released for another American holiday — Independence Day — the dessert sip is a perfect fit for Thanksgiving fare. In partnership with fellow Virginians Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. and Casselmonte Farm, the Richmond-based Blue Bee Cider blends locally grown GoldRush apples with ginger-infused eau de vie for sweet tipple that sits at 15% residual sugar and 16% ABV. There might not be a better pairing for pumpkin pie, melding the cider’s apple and ginger with the pie spice and autumnal sweetness. If pumpkin pie isn’t your thing, Firecracker will get you right on its own.