We admit we may have overdone it with the bubbly on New Year?s Eve. Ease back into imbibing with lower-alcohol hard cider. Bay Area bars and brewers have been challenging cider?s sweet, girlie reputation, redefining it as a drink to be taken seriously, with complexity in taste and levels of dryness. Our three favorite ways to sample the hard stuff:
Go to a cider-focused bar Or rather, go to the only cider-centric bar in the city, Upcider, which serves more than 40 varieties ($5 to $26 a bottle). Experiment with the medium-dry Hogan?s Cider from Worcestershire, England and the crisp, splurge-worthy Etienne Dupont Brut de Normandie from Victot-Pontfol, France.
Buy Sonoma-made ciders Tilted Shed Ciderworks capitalizes on Sebastopol?s Gravenstein apple riches and works with dozens of varieties of local heirloom cider apples to make its hooch ($10 to $15 a bottle). Iterations range from Lost Orchard Dry, a traditional blend of tannic, low-acid bittersweet apples, to the unusual Barbecue Smoked Cider. Purchase it at Andy?s Produce Market in Sebastopol and Berkeley Bowl West.
Sip a cider cocktail Order a Jersey Sidecar cocktail ($11) at Jasper?s Corner Tap. Building on Laird?s Bonded Apple Brandy (distilled in New Jersey, hence the cocktail?s name), the bartenders add Eric Bordelet?s semisweet Sidre Tendre, then balance out the bubbly drink with lemon juice and orange liqueur.