Exploring Europe for the perfect cider bar experience
One of the great pleasures in life is travel, so full of opportunities to see new places and meet new people. I, for one, have truly missed it these past couple of years, so it was with great excitement that I recently spent a few happy weeks wandering the cobblestone streets of some of the coolest cities in Europe. Always on the lookout for a great place to sample the local cider, I found some real gems. The five described below offer many delights for the cider drinker and could well be the highlight of your next European vacation.
Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal | Frankfurt, Germany
We’re all familiar with that staple of German culture, the beer garden. Well, cider gardens exist, too, at least in the historic cider district of Sachsenhausen in Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt. One of the best is Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal. Opened eight years ago by restaurateur and cidermaker Frank Winkler, the cider offerings (apfelwein in German) have now grown to 300 ciders from 28 countries on four continents. There are always two dozen or so available by the glass, the rest by the bottle. The extensive menu focuses on the classics of Germany and the local specialty dishes of Hesse, such as green herb sauce (grüner sosse) with hard boiled eggs and potatoes or schnitzel. It’s a marvelous dinner spot on a warm summer evening.
Grosse Rittergasse 49, 60594
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Le Sistrot | Quimper, Brittany, France
Cider has been made in France for centuries, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the country got its first modern-era bar/restaurant devoted to cider. Le Sistrot, opened by brothers Erwin and Ronan Gire, focuses on the best from all over France, though there are a few ciders from Switzerland and Quebec as well. The food menu is simple, along the lines of a great burger or cheese plate, but the drinks menu is extensive with around 90 ciders, some available by the glass and others as bottles, plus cider cocktails, cider brandy, pommeau and ice cider. Bottles are also available to go, a perfect addition to a picnic on one of Brittany’s amazing beaches.
Blvd Admiral de Kerguélen, 29000
Quimper, Brittany, France
The Cider House | London, United Kingdom
Food-loving visitors to London have long been drawn to Borough Market, a huge rambling collection of stalls selling all things wonderful to eat — cheese, fruits and vegetables, charcuterie, spices and a whole host of ready-to-eat dishes of every cuisine imaginable. For more than 20 years, New Forest Cider of Hampshire has been there, too. Now in 2022, the stand has been reimagined by a partnership between New Forest, Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry, Ted Dwane of Two Orchards Cider, and owner of the Fine Cider Company, Felix Nash. There’s an inviting new bar with a range of ciders by the glass sourced from small orchard–based cider producers across the U.K. and, a host of bottles to take away or order for delivery straight to your door. The new London Cider House is a brilliant way to try the best cider and perry that the U.K. has to offer.
8 Southwark St (in Borough Market), SE1 1TL
Joran Cidrotèque | Brussels, Belgium
Belgium is not a cider-making country historically, but locals in the Schaarbeerk district of Brussels have certainly embraced it thanks to Breton transplant Joran Le Stradic. Opened in 2019, the bar has become a neighborhood fixture, and no wonder. There are tables along the front and in the lush back garden for when the weather is fine. The interior is warmly clad in wood, with a small bar and a variety of tables where patrons can enjoy simple platters of meat or cheese and, in the evenings, Breton-style buckwheat galettes. The eight taps feature a rotating list of ciders from around Europe, including from some of the industry’s most interesting small producers such as Little Pomona, Ross-on-Wye (both from the U.K.) and Ramborn (Luxembourg). There are some 80 or 90 more in bottles for drinking there or taking with you. Irish music sessions happen every other Sunday afternoon, and other musical acts alternate Saturday nights. It is the quintessential awesome hang out spot for locals and out-of-towners alike.
Rue Jacque Jansen 3, 1030
Schaarbeerk, Brussels, Belgium
Le Cidrerie | Paris, France
There are few things lovelier than sitting at a table at one of Paris’ many cafés, sipping something hot or cold depending on the season, and watching the world walk by. Some places will have a cider on the menu, but there is only one that is dedicated to it: La Cidrerie. Situated in the 10th Arrondissement along one of Paris’ picturesque canals, owner Benoit Marinos has created a perfect French cider experience, with a range of ciders both on tap (there are seven) and in bottles. There is also a menu of simple bar foods to nibble. Most of the offerings come from smaller producers that you are unlikely to find without a trip to Normandy or Brittany, but there are also many from other parts of Europe, including Spain and the U.K. Save a bit of room in your luggage as you can also buy bottles to go.
51 Quai de Valmy, 75010