Monday, May 5, 2008

Think Globally, Drink Locally



Continuing on the epicurean wonders of Ithaca, I am proud to announce that the bar known as Korova now carries the local cider Bellwether on tap. This is a bigger deal than you realize.

For fans of sickly sweet ciders like Woodchuck and Cider Jack, this may not seem like news. However, the U.S. has come a long way since its early days, when cider was the most popular alcoholic beverage. Flash forward to 2008, when you can get virtually any beer you want from any number of far away countries in almost any bar. Our taps read like an Epcot brochure, with brews hailing from such exotic locales as Japan and Jamaica. But cider? Uncommon.

While small craft American beers have made a tremendous comeback in the past few years, cider's popularity has greatly dwindled. I remember touring New England as a kid in 1987, and my dad ordering Sam Adams (in moderation) whenever he had the chance. That's because back then, at least where we lived, the only alternative to Bud was Miller. And brands like Red Dog and Icehouse were still just a glimmer in the eyes of the evil marketing wizards who spawned such tasteless poisons.

But in beer's upswing, our old friend cider has for the most part been left high and dry, in the sense that no one has been getting high from drinking fine, dry cider. Hence my double take when I saw a locally produced cider on tap at Korova.

Since local apples are a whole lot easier to come by than local hops and barley, if you see a cider like Bellwether on tap, you're odds are good that it reflects a deeper kind of local than beer: one which has in it's interests your region's trees.

I'm hoping that Korova's Bellwether tap is part of the larger trend in which Americans are remembering how much better it is to consume things that we ourselves produce. My hope is that real cider will ease into the niche created by brands like Woodchuck as smoothly and effectively as the coyote has taken the place of all the wolves we've killed. In fact, here's my first prediction since coquito: you're going to see a lot more cider. That goes for fancy French cider on wine lists, and hopefully for affordable, local cider at your neighborhood pub.

Only then we can honestly say: "the cider house rules!"

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