Bushwick mainstay Brooklyn Cider House, known for their natural ciders and spacious patio, offers plenty for cider fans and willing converts. But for the cider-shy, there’s now a fresh range of breezy summer cocktails to help survive the dog days of summer.
Owner Peter Yi, a former wine buyer, first fell in love with naturally fermented ciders during a chance visit to a sagardotegi, or traditional Basque cider house. He was swiftly inspired to bring Basque-style cider and the social tradition of the sagardotegi back to Bushwick. Today, Brooklyn Cider House is at the forefront of the U.S. craft cider industry, which is still recovering from the Prohibition-era destruction of heirloom cider orchards, but rapidly expanding. Their ciders are made with apples from the Cider House’s Hudson Valley orchards and fermented without heat to preserve idiosyncrasies of each apple varietal.
The cocktail menu similarly allows fresh ingredients speak for themselves. Their gin and tonic is made Spanish-style: tonic on the side, with the floral notes of Botanist gin developed through a garnish of lemon and fresh juniper berries. Drinkers who like a hint of spice will appreciate the gingery La Mula and smoky, jalapeño-infused Pomegranate Spicy Margarita. On the sweeter side: the Jammed Up riffs on the gimlet with marmalade and patio-grown mint, while the Baked Apple Old Fashioned recalls boozy apple pie, using rye, brown sugar, and apple bitters.
Yi drew inspiration the sagardotegis’ social tradition as well as their brewing techniques. The Cider House serves as a community hub, drawing in locals and visitors with murals and art exhibitions throughout the vast, barn-like space. What’s definitely worth checking out: the cider catching. In this Basque tasting method, the drinker releases a tall stream of cider from the barrel, aerating and carbonating the liquid before “catching” it in a glass. It’s traditionally a social, convivial practice, so bring friends.