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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

HOLIDAY: National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day

November 19th is National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day.

There are seven foods that contain natural caffeine. Can you name them?

The first one is a giveaway: coffee. The other six are below, but before you look, here’s the caffeine comparison between drip coffee and espresso:

  • A cup of drip coffee has at least twice the caffeine as a cup of espresso, due to its much larger serving size. However, from a volume perspective, espresso has much more caffeine than drip coffee.
  • Eight ounces of drip coffee contains approximately 65-120 mg of caffeine. One ounce of espresso has 30-50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, the drip coffee has approximately 8.1 to 15 mg of caffeine per ounce; the one ounce of espresso has 30 to 50 mg of caffeine.
  • On a per-ounce basis, espresso wins; although you’d have to drink at least two of them to get the caffeine content of one eight-ounce cup of drip coffee. No problem: We always order a double espresso! [Source]


    Espresso & Amaretti Cookies

    Many people turn to espresso for a hit of caffeine. But you’d get more caffeine with a cup of drip coffee. Photo courtesy Hiline Coffee Co.

    Now for the rest of the foods and beverages that contain natural caffeine:

    2. Conventional tea, the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. The same leaf, Camellia sinensis, makes black, green, oolong and white tea, depending on how long the leaves are pan-toasted. More about the types of tea.

    3. Cacao, in cocoa and chocolate products. It’s made from the seeds of a large pod (cabosse) that grows on the cacao trees. How chocolate and cocoa are made.

    4. Guarana, a component of energy drinks. The seeds in the berries contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (which are roasted into coffee beans); about 2%–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1%–2% for coffee seeds.

    5. Guayusa, a leaf from the guayusa tree. Native to the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, it is a member of the holly family. The leaves of the guayusa tree are dried and brewed like a tea for their stimulative effects. You can buy the Runa brand in the U.S.

    6. Kola nut, used to make cola soft drinks. The nut is the fruit of the kola tree, an evergreen native to the tropical rainforests of Africa.

    7. Yerba maté, another South American holly leaf, that originated in Paraguay and was first chewed and brewed by the indigenous Guaraní people. The dried leaves are steeped into the most popular beverage in Argentina (more).

    Now, about National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day: You can find carbonated chocolate drinks, carbonated cola drinks, carbonated energy drinks, even carbonated guayausa and yerba maté. Drink up!



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Coconut Mousse

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin coconut mousse ingridhoffmannFB 230

    You don’t need special dessert bowls. Use juice glasses, rocks glasses or stemware. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.


    We made this mousse for the adults on Halloween, but the pumpkin theme works throughout the holidays. This is an easy recipe. Here’s a more elaborate pumpin mousse recipe.

    This recipe is from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, who has many more on her website.

    You can serve it in meringues or puff pastry shells, in glass dessert dishes, in wine glasses or rocks glasses, or in scooped out mini pumpkins.


    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup fine sugar*
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice†
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Toasted coconut (instructions below)
  • Optional garnish: mint sprigs for garnish
    *You can use superfine sugar, or can pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice mill to make it more fine.

    † You can buy it or make it, combining 3tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1½ teaspoons ground cloves.

    1. HEAT the pumpkin purée, coconut milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a small sauce pan and and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.

    2. BEAT the whipping cream and rum with an electric hand mixer, until peaks form. Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the whipped cream, until well mixed.

    3. CHILL for at least 2 hours. Garnish with toasted coconut and a mint sprig.

    You can buy toasted coconut, but it’s very easy to toast your own in the oven or microwave.

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Spread shredded coconut evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.

    2. WATCH closely to avoid over-browning.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Sangria

    For the holidays, we like Cranberry Sangria. In addition to making pitchers of it to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we keep a pitcher of Sangria in the fridge for daily apéritifs and impromptu visitors.

    In the first recipe, tart cranberry juice is pared with a sweet wine and orange liqueur. It takes only 10 minutes to make this recipe, from McCormick. The result: a flavorful, well-balanced holiday refreshment.

    Plan ahead: November 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s the history of sangria.


    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 orange
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine, such as Moscato or Riesling
  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur*, such as Grand Marnier
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Cranberry Sangria

    Steep orange slices studded with cloves, plus cranberries and cinnamon sticks, in sweet white wine and tart cranberry juice. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    *Here are the different types of  orange liqueur.


    1. CUT the orange into 8 wedges. Press 2 cloves into each wedge. Set aside.

    2. MIX the wine, cranberry juice, cranberries, liqueur, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in large pitcher until well blended. Add the orange wedges.

    3. REFRIGERATE for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve straight up or on the rocks.

    This recipe also celebrates the flavors and colors of the season—with cinnamon, clementines and cranberries. They compliment the rich red-fruit flavors of Ruby Port (there’s more about Port below). The recipe was developed by Sandeman, using their Founders Reserve Ruby Port.
    Don’t worry about buying a bottle just for this recipe. Port is delicious served alone at the end of any dinner, with the cheese course (especially blue cheeses and washed-rind cheeses). or accompanying a rich chocolate or caramel dessert or candy.

    Serve Ruby Port with a side of salted or smoked nuts, and with smoked meats. The next time you make barbecue, serve Ruby Port on the rocks with a twist of lime!


    Sangria With Ruby Port

    Keep a pitcher in the fridge. Photo courtesy Sandeman.



  • 1 bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto or other Ruby Port
  • 4 ounces cinnamon schnapps† (Goldschläger is relatively easy to find)
  • 3 clementines, quartered or sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 18 ounces sparkling clementine juice or clementine soda‡
  • 6 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • Ground allspice to taste
    †Cinnamon schnapps is also delicious in coffee, after dinner drinks, atop vanilla ice cream, and so on. You can also make cinnamon simple syrup.

    ‡San Pellegrino and Izze make clementine sparkling drinks. Otherwise, substitute orange soda.


    1. COMBINE the Port, cinnamon schnapps, clementine pieces, cranberries, cranberry juice and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

    2. TO SERVE: Add the sparkling clementine juice/soda and sprinkle allspice on top, to taste.

    Porto (sometimes written as Oporto, “the Porto”) is the second largest city in Portugal. Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Port wine is produced in the region.

    Port is made in several expressions: Crusted, Colheita, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Ruby, Single Quinta, Tawny, Vintage, Vintage Character and White. Here’s an explanation of each type of Port.



    FOOD FUN: The “Holiday Bird” Turkey Burger

    Last year’s seasonal special at Umami Burger was the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger.

    The burger patty was first topped with aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), followed by:

  • Kabocha tempura, the kabocha standing in for pumpkin
  • Spiced mascarpone cheese
  • Coffee glaze
    This year, a fan favorite, the Holiday Bird turkey burger, returns. It’s both “an entire holiday meal with each savory bite,” and “everything but the apple pie.”

    Here’s what’s in-between the bun:

  • Turkey burger patty
  • Cornbread stuffing patty
  • Turkey gravy
  • Ginger-cranberry chutney
  • Spiced Japanese yams
  • Fried sage leaf
    The Holiday Bird is available at all Umami Burger locations throughout the holiday season.

    For each burger sold, one dollar will be donated to Meals On Wheels America, which supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs nationwide.

    If there’s no Umami Burger near you, nothing’s stopping you from re-creating it at home, perhaps with a side of sweet potato fries in addition to those spiced yams.



    Holiday Bird Burger at Umami Burger

    TOP PHOTO: The 2014 Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. BOTTOM PHOTO: The 2015 Holiday Bird Burger. Photos courtesy Umami Burger.




    RECIPE: Mojito Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/mojito sweet potatoes ingridhoffmann 230s

    Mashed sweet potatoes with a “Mojito” touch. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann | Facebook.


    Chef Ingrid Hoffmann calls these “Mojito” mashed sweet potatoes because they have fresh mint and lime juice. Find more dellicious recipes on her website,

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed but unpeeled (about 1½ pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

    1. PLACE the whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

    2. DRAIN and rinse the potatoes under cold water until they are easy to handle. Meanwhile…

    3. WARM the oil in a small saucepan over high heat, about 1 minute. Alternatively, microwave the oil in a microwavable bowl on high until the oil is warm, about 30 seconds. Add the mint leaves and crush with a pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon. Set aside.

    4. PEEL the sweet potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Add the mint mixture, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the mint sprigs, and serve hot.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Leaf-Shaped Veggies For Thanksgiving

    You can be very artistic with vegetables. It just takes a bit of planning. While it takes some dexterity to make this “rose tart”, here is a simple alternative.

    It comes from one of our favorite creative cooks, Vicky of She cuts up vegetables with a leaf cookie cutter before roasting them. She then tosses the cooked veggies in a mustard and maple syrup vinaigrette.

    Cookie cutters make vegetables fun any time of the year. You can make stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and so on. Check the size of you cutter to be sure it isn’t larger than the beets and potatoes. You may need to use two sizes: medium and small. Here’s a good set of leaf cookie cutters from Wilton: three different leaves, each in small, medium and large.

    After you’ve cut out the shapes, keep the vegetable scraps to make stock; or chop them and steam them lightly to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, grain salads, etc. Stick them in the freezer if you’re too busy to think about it now.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Vegetables

  • 9 ounces/250g uncooked red beets, skinned and trimmed
  • 18 ounces/500g butternut squash, peeled


    Volunteer to make the vegetables; then cut them with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Photo ©

  • 14 ounces/400g Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian or other all-purpose* potatoes, washed and peeled
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
    *Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and/or Purple Peruvian potatoes will give you the color you want. You can substitute other all-purpose potatoes such as Katahdin or Kennebec (a leading chipping potato). Check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or substitute†
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Garnish: 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • Garnish: a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    †Substitutes in order of preference: rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar. See the different types of vinegar.



    Headed for the oven. Photo ©



    1. LINE two baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

    2. SLICE the potatoes and butternut squash into 1/8-inch thin slices, using a very sharp knife or a mandolin on its thickest setting. If cutting with a knife, ensure the slices as even as possible.

    3. SLICE the beets the same way. Use a separate chopping board or cut the beets last, or they will bleed into the other vegetables.

    4. USE a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the leaves. For more visual interest, use different shape leaves (maple and oak, for example). Once again, keep the beets on a separate chopping board so they don’t bleed on the potatoes and squash. TIP FROM VICKY: Raw root vegetables are a lot tougher to cut than cookie dough, so protect your palms by placing a small towel underneath your hand when you press down on the cutter.

    OPTIONAL: You can make the leaves even more decorative by scoring some veins with a knife. This is labor intensive and a task ideally delegated to a helper.

    5. PLACE the potato and squash in a bowl and toss in most of the oil, paprika salt, pepper and some herbs. Move the oiled squash and potatoes to one of the lined baking sheets. Place the beets in the same bowl, toss them in the remaining oil, paprika, salt, pepper and herbs, and add them to the other baking sheet.

    6. PLACE both baking sheets in the oven. Cook the smaller leaves for 20 minutes and the larger leaves for 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking…

    7. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Next, whisk in the maple syrup.

    8. PLACE the cooked vegetables on a warm serving dish. Pour on most of the dressing, reserving some in a jug for those who’d like more. Scatter the capers on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs before serving.



    RECIPE: No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Well, it’s almost no bake: The crust gets baked for 10 minutes. But after that, all you do is mix, fill and refrigerate thanks to this easy recipe from Kenwood.

    If the kids want to make a contribution, this is something they can do without worrying about baking times (or having to stick around, waiting for the baking to finish).

    Prep time is 20 minutes, chill time is 4 hours or overnight.



    For The Crust

  • 10 to 12 graham crackers to make approx 1.5 cups
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
    For The Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin pie filling*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • Optional: whipped cream for garnish


    The crust bakes for 10 minutes. Then, chill and serve. Photo courtesy Kenwood.


    *Note that pumpkin pie filling is already seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Do not confuse it with unseasoned can pumpkin.


    1. HEAT the oven to 375°F. Using a food processor with the chopping blade, combine the softened butter with the graham crackers to create a graham crust. Stir until the crumbs are evenly coated and look wet. The crumbs should hold together in a clump if you press them in your fist; if not, add water a tablespoon at a time until this happens.

    2. POUR the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan and press them evenly along the bottoms and sides. Pre-bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until dry and fragrant. Cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

    3. MIX the cream cheese in the mixing bowl of the food processor on medium speed until it is a bit fluffy. Slowly add in the pumpkin pie filling and mix on low until blended. Mix in the cinnamon and sugar until mixture is completely smooth.

    4. REMOVE the filling and place in another bowl. Add the whipping cream to the mixing bowl and beat until stiff. Slowly fold in cream cheese mixture until just blended (it won’t be pretty so don’t think you’re doing something wrong).

    5. POUR into the pie crust. Let the cheesecake chill in for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, garnish with a optional dollop of whipped cream.



    FOOD FUN: Fall Leaf Cookies

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/leaf cookies craftsmanandwolves 230

    Make shortbread leaves in the colors of fall. Photo courtesy Craftsman and Wolves | San Francisco.


    If you want to bring something homemade to your Thanksgiving hosts—but they don’t need another pie—bake leaf-shaped shortbread cookies in fall colors.

    These were made by the wonderful San Francisco Bakery, Craftsman and Wolves. Click on the links for recipes from The Nibble, Epicurious and Martha Stewart.

  • Autumn Spice Shortbread (add some food color for an orange-colored dough)
  • Chocolate Shortbread
  • Golden Shortbread
  • Matcha Shortbread

    You could also make almond shortbread, ginger shortbread with crystallized ginger, lemon or orange shortbread.

    All you need are your favorite shortbread recipe or one of ours, a leaf cookie cutter and some optional sanding sugar.

    With a set of assorted leaf cookie cutters, you can use a different shape for each flavor.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

    Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

    Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

    Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

    Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

    Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.



    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.



    PRODUCT & TOUR : The Angry Orchard Cider Experience

    Here’s the question: Why is Angry Orchard cider angry?

    You learn that the name reflects the apple varieties used to make hard cider*, some of which are not as pretty as eating apples, and therefore “angry.” Or that the trees get gnarled as they age.

    That might be true with the cider apples imported from Europe and their parent trees; but at a recent visit to an Angry Orchard orchard in New York State, we observed only charming groves with pretty apples hanging from pert apple trees. We’ll have to take their word about the angry part.

    In fact, if you have the occasion to visit Angry Orchard’s new visitor center in New York State, you might call it “Happy Orchard.” There is much to make a visitor happy.


    The cider makers at Angry Orchard have been crafting ciders for 20 years, but had been looking to establish a cider research center. They found a 60-acre orchard located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, in New York State. They built a new space for the cider makers to conduct small batch experimentation, developing new cider styles.

    After months of planning and constructing, Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House in Walden, New York has opened its doors and welcomed visitors to tour the facility. The experimental ciders they create are served exclusively at the cidery’s tasting room.

    Above the cidery is a charming museum with tidbits about the history of cider, and actual equipment that was used before modern sorters, crushers and other equipment came onto the scene.

    There is also a shop with cider-abilia and bottles of the hard-to-find ciders like the Cider House Collection (there’s more about it below). You can also take home growler of cider from the retail line. Both are wonderful gifts for cider lovers.

    The Innovation Cider House has been open during select weekends in November, enabling visitors to learn about hard cider and try samples of the experimental ciders.

    For the first season, dates and times are very limited. There’s one weekend left this year:

  • Friday, November 20, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 22, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    If you love cider, it’s worth the trip. There are also wonderful restaurants in the area, plenty of inns and other things to see.

    Cider Apples At Angry Orchard

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/tasting the apples 230

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/vintage pickup in museum 230

    TOP PHOTO: Different cider apples. MIDDLE PHOTO: We tasted the apples (some yummy, some for blending but not for eating). BOTTOM PHOTO: A vintage pickup truck from the cider museum. Photos by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

    We were already fans of the retail line, and absolutely loved the experiments. We won’t say more about them under THE NIBBLE policy that if readers can’t get hold of it, we won’t focus on it.

    The Cider Innovation House is located at 2241 Albany Post Road in Walden, New York. Take a left at the red barn and drive past the orchard to visitor parking. Everything is complimentary; to sample the ciders you must be at least 21 years old with a valid ID.

    If you can’t get there in person, you can visit the orchard online.

    Angry Orchard makes a variety of craft cider styles:

  • The Core Collection: Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple (the flagship), Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple and Stone Dry
  • Seasonal Ciders: Summer Honey and Cinnful Apple
  • The Cider House Collection†: Iceman, Strawman and The Muse
    To find where Angry Orchard hard cider is served near you, visit the cider finder on the brand’s website.


    Angry Orchard Cider Glass

    Angry Orchard Cider House Collection

    TOP PHOTO: Angry Orchard Stone Dry Cider with the brand’s new cider glass, specifically designed to showcase aromas and flavors. BOTTOM PHOTO: The Cider House Collection, small batch ciders in larger formats. Photos courtesy Angry Orchard.



    During colonial times and beyond, hard cider was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages, due to the abundance of apples. Beer was much less important.

    But in the 19th century, waves of beer-drinking German immigrants brought their lager recipes with them and set up shop. Soon beer became very popular.

    Prohibition dealt a serious blow to hard cider production. Although beer was also proscribed, when Prohibition ended it was easy to buy barley, hops and malt and start brewing again. It took years to replant cider apple orchards and grow trees to the point where they bore usable fruit. Even today, traditional cider apples are hard to find in the U.S.

    Cider has finally experienced a renaissance, which is gluten free (beer isn’t, although there are some gluten free beers).

    Brands like Crispin and Woodchuck captured the interest of American quaffers, along with imports like Magner’s. Smaller American brands like Farnum Hill Extra Dry, Foggy Ridge Serious Cider and West County Cider have found broader audiences.

    Creative cider makers like Original Sin press their apples with tart cherries (to create Original Sin Cherry Tree). Doc’s Hard Apple is an earthy style that pairs well with mushroom dishes and washed rind cheeses.

    But the king of cider is Angry Orchard, a brand of the Boston Beer Company, parent of Samuel Adams beer. It launched Angry Orchard in 2012, and had the distribution and marketing power to quickly become the country’s largest cider brand.

    Now, go forth and try as much as you can.
    *In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, to differentiate it from fresh apple cider, called cider. Everywhere else in the world, cider refers to the alcoholic beverage. Hard cider is made from fresh apple juice which has undergone two different types of fermentation.

    †These artisanal hard ciders represent three distinct styles, and are produced in small batches, using traditional cider apples from France and Italy and France and aged on oak. They are 10% A.B.V. (Alcohol By Volume), twice as much alcohol as the regular line, and are sold in 750 ml bottles.




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