Eighty-degree days have not felt much like autumn lately, but Foggy Ridge cider brand ambassador Stacey Sprenz helped us get in the autumn spirit when she treated us to an evening of cider cocktails at Earl's Grocery.
For those who claim they do not care for cider, dare we suggest you have been imbibing the wrong drink? The mass-produced cider found on grocery store shelves is much sweeter than cider produced from artisans like Foggy Ridge. For example, the Stayman Winesap cider we sampled is just 2.3 percent sugar and similar in taste to a dry Riesling, and the First Fruit cider is one percent sugar and similar to Sauvignon Blanc.
Another fact to note is the apples we love for eating and baking – think Red Delicious and Granny Smith – do not make great hard cider. Many heirloom apple varieties that do produce the sour, bitter, and acidic apples used for cider were destroyed during Prohibition when apple trees were chopped down and burned. Unfortunately, those orchards never really returned after its repeal.
Today, we are lucky to have passionate people like Foggy Ridge founder and cider maker Diane Flynt committed to caring for apples and crafting great cider. Her passion is well-known and respected throughout the industry; Diane was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in both 2015 and 2016.
Photo credit: @scallionpancake
Our first cocktail, Fruitcake the Drink, featured Stayman Winesap cider mixed with Fair Game apple brandy, Crude "Sycophant" bitters, and garnished with an orange peel. Stayman Winesap cider is a blend of common Stayman and Winesap apples and tart heirloom varieties. This full-flavored, lightly sweet cider is as sweet at it gets for Foggy Ridge. For wine drinkers, Bon Appetit magazine claims this cider will turn wine snobs into cider snobs.
Next up was a Fall Thyme Whiskey cocktail featuring First Fruit cider, TOPO Eight Oak whiskey, thyme simple syrup, and Crude "Lindsay" bitters. First Fruit cider blends early season cider apples like Hewe's Crab, Harrison, and Parmar to create a flavorful, fruit-forward, acidic cider.
Pick up a bottle of Foggy Ridge cider for your cocktails or to enjoy with a meal. Ciders pair well with a variety foods, from our popular Carolina barbecue to spicy dishes and rich cheeses.
Foggy Ridge sells their ciders online and in the Charlotte area at a variety of bottle shops. You can also take a road trip and visit them at 1328 Pineview Road, Dugspur, Virginia. Cheers!
Photo credit: @offtheeatenpath
Fruitcake the Drink
4 ounces Stayman Winesap cider
1 ounce Fair Game apple brandy
5 drops Crude "Sycophant" bitters
orange peel for garnish
Pour the cider into a pitcher filled with ice. Add the apple brandy and stir to combine. Strain into a cocktail glass, top with bitters, and garnish with an orange peel.
Fall Thyme Whiskey
4 ounces First Fruit cider
1 ounce TOPO Eight Oak whiskey
¼ ounce thyme simple syrup
5 drops Crude "Lindsay" bitters
thyme sprig for garnish
Pour the cider into a pitcher filled with ice. Add the whiskey and thyme simple syrup and stir to combine. Strain into a cocktail glass, top with bitters, and garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Photo Credit: @theoliveandthesea