By Ana Soltero | Reporting by CiderScene
“Have you sinned today?” If you’ve had a sip of Original Sin hard cider in the past 25 years, you very well may have.
This year, New York’s Original Sin cidery celebrates their 25-year anniversary since their establishment in 1996. While founder Gidon Coll calls the past quarter-century an amazing journey, there’s no doubt the voyage started off a little rocky.
“Back then, what perception there was of cider was often negative,” Coll said. “Finding a distributor willing to carry a cider from a small new producer was a major challenge.”
Before jumping into the recent history of Original Sin, let’s discuss a little bit of the old days of cider.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, hard cider held a higher social status than beer in America — up until the mid-1850s, that is. Somewhere along the way (we’re looking at you, Prohibition), the drink’s following dropped.
During the 20th century, interest and knowledge surrounding the cider scene was in the pits. Its watershed moment didn’t come until 2011, when the United States National Cider Association came along and after the first CiderCon meeting — which Coll attended.
“That meeting consisted of 40 or so individuals, from a variety of backgrounds who came together with a singular mission to grow our industry,” Coll said. “From that moment on, the U.S. cider industry has had a sense of structure and community.”
Stop the tape and rewind. As aforementioned, Original Sin was established in 1996. Coll recalls that the first few years of Original Sin were tough. He hauled cases of cider onto New York City subways and to Manhattan and Brooklyn establishments.
However, Coll said he still held a sense of optimism regarding the future of Original Sin for two reasons:
“One, people who had never tried hard cider before generally liked it and many were surprised and intrigued to hear about the rich traditions of the drink,” Coll said. “And two, OS has always had an amazingly loyal following.”
Soon, Coll experienced a feeling of euphoria when the first set of East Village bars agreed to stock his cider, and shortly after, when he first witnessed customers ordering Original Sin by name.
Twenty-five years later, Original Sin has received salutes from the likes of Market Watch, The New York Times, New York Post and Paper Magazine.
So, what can other cideries that want to reach a 25-year milestone do? When it comes to developing a following for your cider, Coll said he’d recommend engaging with end-consumers as much as possible.
“Direct contact with cider drinkers will enable you to communicate the attributes of your product offerings and give you invaluable first-hand market feedback,” Coll said.
According to the cidery’s about page, during Original Sin’s early days, Coll “collected feedback from everyone he knew, adjusting and tinkering with his cider until it was clean, crisp and practically perfect.”
This sort of communication between cidermaker and cider drinkers has allowed the cidery to continue to produce a variety of hard ciders, from fruity picks to straight-up apple and drier cider offerings.
The people Coll has met along the way (and the cider, of course) have helped Original Sin along its journey.
“It is hard to put in words the level of gratitude I feel to all the consumers, bartenders, and bar and restaurant owners and managers who have gone out of their way to support OS through the years,” Coll said. “We have also been incredibly fortunate to have an amazing supportive network of distributor partners.”