Rosé may have earned a reputation for being the official alcoholic beverage of the summer, but for Joe Slavinski, bar manager at Harvard Square mainstay Russell House Tavern, it’s high time to give cider the recognition it deserves.
“There’s always a time and a place for cider — especially summer,” Slavinski said. “Summertime is really my cider wheelhouse.”
At Russell House, Slavinski and his team offer up ciders that come from all over the Northeast, from Vermont to New York. He said that there are a number of cider makers local to (or close enough by) Boston that he’s really excited about.
You’ll be excited to swap your usual bottle of rosé for a six-pack of summer cider after you take a look at Slavinski’s recommendations.
Slavinski said Prospect Ciderworks, based near South Boston, is a perfect local option for Bostonians looking to get familiar with cider.
“They have three ciders going strong year-round,” he said. “Currently, I’m rocking the Paradise.”
Slavinski said he prefers the Paradise especially in the warmer months because he notices vanilla pear notes — even though technically there isn’t any pear involved in the fermentation process for this cider. The Paradise is currently available on draft at Russell House Tavern.
“To have a good, solid cider that we can be proud of, that can hang with the big boys on the draft line, is I think, super important,” he said. “And, it’s really great for the summer based on its name alone.”
Slavinski said that he’d recommend the Paradise to those looking for something sour, but also said that it brings out any sweetness in lighter fare, like arugula and kale salads.
Although Prospect Ciderworks doesn’t yet have a taproom for guests to visit and try its blends, Slavinski said he can’t wait for the team to open up its space at 173B Norfolk Ave. to the public soon. You can follow along with @Prospectcider on Instagram for updates on the space.
Far From the Tree Craft Cider
Looking to get more familiar with local cider houses, but want to get a little farther out of the city? Consider an easy commuter rail trip to Salem, where Slavinski recommends industry favorite Far From the Tree Craft Cider.
“They have an awesome variety of ciders they put out every season,” he said.
Slavinski said he loves all of Far From the Tree’s seasonal and regular offerings, but said that the warm-weather option really takes the cake.
“Right now they have a jalapeño pineapple — that’s the one they rock in the summer,” Slavinski said, referring to Far From the Tree’s Lei cider.
Slavinski said that the Lei is great to pair with barbecue or anything grilled because of its sweet and juicy flavor, which finishes with a perfect kick of spice.
Slavinski said that the Downeast Cider House in East Boston (and the summer back porch location on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway) is a great local stop to visit on your cider crawl.
“They’re really hospitable,” he said. “You can tell they really love having people in.”
Slavinski said he was a huge fan of Downeast Unoriginal blend cider, but it is unfortunately no longer in production. So instead, he suggested the Drier Side cider, which is a close replacement for the flavor.
Day trip cider stops
If you’re planning a summer vacation a few hours from Boston, Slavinski said that you can’t go wrong with a stop at Stowe Cider in Stowe, Vermont, or Embark Craft Ciderworks in Williamson, New York.
“People are going to the beach in the summer more often than they are going inland, so it’s easier to get there than anywhere else,” he said, making the case for a summer trip to Stowe. “Right now, I’m enjoying the Tip’s Up. It’s basically one of their drier ciders, while still being super approachable. It’s not going to be cloyingly dry, and definitely not sparkling wine dry, but just a really kind of middle of the road option.
At Embark, Slavinski said he recommends the Old Marauder, which leans on the drier side.
“If I’m hanging out and kicking back, it’s with a drier cider,” he said. “That, without a doubt, is my go-to style. I even like if it’s borderline sparkling wine.”