It’s not your imagination: the Hudson Valley is the premier hard cider hotspot in the country, with amazing, fermented options at every turn.
Whether light, crisp, sparkling, earthy, amber, or fruity, there’s plenty to sample and savor. “There’s such growth, progress, and education happening here, year after year,” says Craig Cavallo, co-owner of the Golden Russet Café and Grocery in Rhinebeck. “From the cider drinkers to the makers to the people working in the orchards, it’s a cultural endeavor that just keeps getting better. Everyone gives feedback and learns from one another.” Taste the craft and creativity for yourself at these killer cideries.
Woodstock \ abandonedcider.com
A couple of years ago, two hobby cider makers, Eric Childs and Martin Bernstein, set to work reclaiming abandoned orchards and crowdsourcing apples from backyards across the Catskills. Up and running as a commercial enterprise since 2017, Abandoned Cider still uses detective skills to sniff out the best heirloom apples in the area to craft their bone-dry ciders, many of which are small-batch. Visit one of Abandoned Cider’s three outposts—in Woodstock, Red Hook, and Kingston—to learn about their craft (and perhaps study a map that shows precisely where their apples came from).
Season’s sip: For the beer-lover who’s new to cider, Hopped can be the perfect, crushable introduction.
Walden \ angryorchard.com
The 60-acre Angry Orchard is a local spot gone big-time: They often capture half of the national cider market. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Hudson Valley, check out their home base: Visit the taproom and try their renowned ciders—Crisp Apple, Pear, Rosé, Green Apple, and unfiltered—plus whatever else may be brewing. The kitchen serves up shareable appetizers, and food trucks drive by on weekends. Book a guided orchard walk or a treehouse experience, which will give you amazing vistas of the orchard and the Gunks. Devotees may join the cider club for discounts.
Season’s sip: You can’t go wrong with their Crisp Apple classic but see if Pommeau is available—it’s a traditional French beverage blending fresh-pressed apple juice and apple brandy with notes of vanilla and almond.
Bad Seed Hard Cider
Highland \ badseedhardcider.com
Apples grew for six generations at Wilklow Farms, but it wasn’t until a decade ago that Albert Wilklow and his friend Devin Britton began melding old and new techniques to create cider with zero grams of sugar. There are a few dozen taps (cider plus local beer) spread over two locations: The Taproom (at the cidery) and the Farm Bar (at the orchard). You’ll discover about 30 small-batch options per season, says Britton, like Plum Rose (blue plums are added for a tart blush cider); Pink Lady, a single varietal; and the intriguingly named Old Elmer, a dry cider aged with American oak. Brick-fired pizza and poutine are on the menu, plus food trucks visit regularly. Bad Seed’s Fall Back Festival will be on November 5 and 6.
Season’s sip: Don’t miss their flagship Dry Hard Cider. Fermented with a Sauvignon Blanc yeast and then conditioned in the can, it’s akin to apple champagne.
North Salem \ hardscrabbleny.com
Sure, the rotating ranks of food trucks and live music nights are a big draw at Hardscrabble, but there’s no getting around the irresistible allure of their cider. Owned by the Covino brothers (Alex, Kevin, and Ben), the micro farm-cidery is renowned for its classic as well as its inventive drinks. Black Dirt has earthy beet notes, Jalapeño Cucumber suits those who like something spicy, and their Dry Cider is an all-around pleaser with Macintosh notes. Located at Harvest Moon Orchard & Farm, Hardscrabble is tucked inside the farm store. Grab your drink and head outside to the tables overlooking the pumpkin patch, a pond, and perhaps some frolicking chickens.
Season’s sip: You can‘t go wrong with their straight-up ciders, but if you’re there on a weekend and feeling daring, try an Orchard Bloody—described as “basically a salad,” it mixes Hardscrabble’s dry hard cider, local vodka, and the usual veggie component.
Left Bank Ciders
Catskill \ leftbankciders.com
Left Bank Ciders has quite the badass backstory: It began when two out of three co-owners gathered castoff apples, foraged some more, and then used a food processor and pillowcases to grind and squeeze out and ultimately ferment their cider. Today, Left Bank still uses apples from abandoned orchards, donated fruit, and pounds and pounds of apples from growers within 100 miles of their Catskill home base. They describe their ciders as “dry and complex,” and you can taste a rotating selection at their tap room, accompanied by pizza thanks to a new partnership with BeGolden farms.
Season’s sip: Bell Hill, a hyperlocal star. “It’s made exclusively from foraged wild apples from Greene County and created with native yeast, so the whole process is just what we’re getting from nature,” says co-owner Tim Graham.
Little Apple Cidery
Hillsdale \ little-apple-cider.business.site
Tucked off a winding road in Hillsdale, Little Apple Cidery has an expansive lawn where you can sit and contemplate the clouds. But it isn’t just a beautiful location—the orchard is certified organic, and the ciders are spectacular. In fact, Floraison, a seasonal, naturally carbonated sparkling cider, was recently awarded a gold medal at Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, the largest in the world. Stop by to sip some of owner and cidermaker Ron Bixby’s creations, and why not have a cheese plate as well? Mark your calendars for Ciderfest on October 9. It’s a free event with music, a barrel-rolling contest, and Aloha Tacos food truck—oh, and plenty of cider.
Season’s sip: Little Apple Cidery is one of the very few locations where you can find Quince Cider—see if you can snag some.
Nine Pin Cider Works
Albany \ ninepincider.com
If you’re looking for a different vibe than a pastoral paradise—something a little more downtown—check out Nine Pin. It’s a Granny Smith-green building sporting a mural of an orchard in the Broadway warehouse district. There are straightforward apple-centric ciders, plus inventive ones like Hunny Pear and Adirondack Maple. For more fun: join the 26er challenge and try all of the limited draft cider released over the course of a year (you’ll be rewarded with swag, discounts, and a special party). What goes great with Nine Pin’s ciders? Their sourdough pizzas, Bavarian pretzels, and house-made pickles.
Season’s sip: Ginger cider, made with Samascott Orchards’ dessert apples. It’s infused with ginger and orange peel and tells your tastebuds that fall is truly here.
Orchard Hill Cider Mill
New Hampton \ orchardhillcidermill.com
This compact, absolute charmer of a taproom is set inside a white-trimmed, barn-red building at Soons Orchards. They make two styles of Pommeau: the Ten66 (named for year the Normans invaded England) and the richer, barrel-aged Ten66 Reserve. Reservations are recommended for the cozy, wood-paneled space which offers six ciders. Drink up and dive into a charcuterie board or cider-donut bread pudding. If you fall in love with their ciders and Pommeau, join Orchard Hill’s cider club.
Season’s sip: Say cheers to Bitters and Sharps. “We use a naturally carbonated methodology in champagne bottles to create a very rich, fruity cider with zero grams of residual sugar,” says co-owner Karl duHoffmann.
Rockland Cider Works
Orangeburg \ rocklandciderworks.com
You’ve been to beer gardens, but what about a cider garden? Head to the county’s very first cidery at Van Houten Farms. Grab a glass of something crisp and refreshing at the Tollhouse Taproom and then take a seat in the garden center that’s awash in seasonal displays. You’ll have your choice of Rockland’s sugar-and gluten-free hard ciders made with 100 percent NYS apples. The flagship Dry Run is impressive on its own, but there’s usually a surprise on tap, too, from Ida Red to Pumpkin to Butterscotch. Live music and food trucks give you more reason to linger as afternoon turns into evening. They have a second location farther north in Gilboa.
Season’s sip: Try Bounceberries, a dry, tart, but smooth cranberry cider that is full of fall flavor.
Callicoon \ seminaryhill.co
If you love apples, architecture, and all things eco-friendly, Seminary Hill will delight you. The 12-acre orchard, with 60 varieties of apple and pear trees, uses holistic, pesticide- and herbicide-free methods. The sustainability ethos continues in the stunning, stone-and-timber production facility and tasting room, which is the first cidery to meet passive-house standards. Overlooking the Delaware River, Seminary Hill is so gorgeous, you may not want to leave (if you really can’t pry yourself away, stay overnight at the Boarding House, an on-premises inn). Of course, the main event is the quintet of ciders produced: Baldwin Pippin, Beechwoods, Delaware Dry, Northern Spy, and Susan’s Semi-Dry, all with little-to-no residual sugar (there are also nano batches for cider club members). Turn up on Sundays at 1 p.m. for a tour and tasting; you can also dine on chef Jack Tippett’s seasonal menu that pairs well with the cider.
Season’s sip: Susan’s Semi-Dry 2020. It has the apple flavor and a touch of sweetness that many cider drinkers crave, along with peach and rose notes and a nicely astringent finish.
Hopewell Junction \ treasurycider.com
The venerable Fishkill Farms orchard provides the apples that are the stars of the show at Treasury Cider, billed as “tree to bottle Hudson Valley hard cider.” You can have a glass or flight on the porch, overlooking the orchard, with the Catskills soaring in the distance (reservations recommended). Varieties might include Counterpane, a delightful dry cider co-fermented with sweet and tart cherries; Colony, a mead-style cider; and Wild at Heart, a semi-dry cider that is steeped with wild foraged sumac. Another good reason to stop by: The calendar of events, including live music, “Sip and Stretch” yoga, and open mic night.
Season’s sip: Pucker up with the Centennial cider—unfiltered, tart, and dry. Want something a little milder? You can’t miss with Homestead, a semi-dry with McIntosh, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Jonamac, and more in the mix.
Related: 9 Hudson Valley Spots Serving Apple-Inspired Treats This Season