Apple Cider Day falls on November 18th every year. How ’bout them apples?!
There’s pretty much a day for everything under the sun. There’s National Napping Day, National Thrift Shop Day, International Day of Yoga, and one that is near and dear to most mothers’ hearts: National Day of Coffee. Apple cider has its day, too!
The thought of Apple Cider Day makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. To me, the taste and scent of apple cider are synonymous with falling leaves, being obsessed with pumpkin spice everything, and getting lost in a corn maze. I’m here for fall and I’m here for Apple Cider Day. I bet you are, too.
The best way to celebrate Apple Cider Day is to drink some hard cider, IMO. My husband and I have taken the guesswork out for you by sampling and rating a number of hard ciders. You’re welcome.
I chose six hard ciders from Total Wine’s Mix & Match section. They have a dizzying number to choose from (maybe 60 or 70 kinds!) so I’ll explain my rationale for picking each one, as well as our first impressions and ratings from 1-10.
My husband, Aaron, and I tend to have very different palates when it comes to alcohol. He’s a hazy IPA guy; I prefer fruity light beers. He loves bourbon; I throw up a little in my mouth when I smell the stuff. I hope that our varied taste preferences make for a more scientific evaluation of these hard ciders.
Hard Cider Taste-Test
1. Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, 5% ABV, $2.29 for 12 oz.
Why this one?: Angry Orchard is probably the most well-known, common grocery store hard cider. This is the baseline for our tasting experiment.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Refreshing. Really good. OMG, 20 grams of sugar?! No wonder it’s so delicious.” 7/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “Smooth. Crisp. The squeezy applesauce pouch of the cider industry.” 7/10
2. Noble Cider Apple Pie, 5% ABV, $3.99 for 16 oz.
Why this one?: There’s a drawing of an apple pie on it. Yum! And it’s from Asheville and we love everything about that city.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Not as much flavor as I had hoped for. Apple pie?! LIES!” 5/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “Playful carbonation upstages a watered-down apple juice. It’s for the hard seltzer crowd and that ain’t me.” 3/10
3. Austin Eastciders Original Dry Cider, 5% ABV, $2.79 for 12 oz.
Why this one?: My husband lived in Austin for a while, so I bought this one as a homage to him. Also, I wanted to make sure we had a dry cider in the mix.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Apple juice meets Miller Lite.” 5/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “I know Austin. They’re not trying to be fancy. They’ve made a cider you can drink all night long in the Texas heat. It’s alright.” 6/10
4. Artifact Cider Feels Like Home, 5.4% ABV, $4.99 for 16 oz.
Why this one?: I will literally buy anything that is dressed in buffalo plaid.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Blah. Tastes like it went bad. I’m so disappointed because it’s so cute!” *pouty face* 2/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “Tastes like sangria made from a three-dollar bottle of wine and a bad apple.” 2/10
5. Original Sin Unfiltered McIntosh, 6% ABV, $2.79 for 12 oz.
Why this one?: McIntoshes are my favorite kind of apple. I wanted to see how they translate into a cider. I was also intrigued by the name . . . sounds a little dangerous.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Tart. Meh.” 5/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “Chardonnay meets Granny Smith. Meh.” 4/10
6. Stella Artois Cidre, 4.5% ABV, $2.49 for 12 oz.
Why this one?: I tend to enjoy Stella Artois beer and wanted to try their version of a cider. I mean, cidre.
Jenna’s First Impression & Rating: “Hot damn, now there’s a hard cider. I mean, cidre. Sweet and lovely.” 8/10
Aaron’s First Impression & Rating: “It has a realistic cider (I mean, cidre) flavor. I can taste an orchard in this. Filtered and precise.” 8/10
So there you have it: Stella Artois Cidre for the win! We loved it for its sweetness, authentic flavor, and fancy spelling.
Some Less-Tipsy Ways to Celebrate Apple Cider Day
- Buy some cider at the grocery store. Drink it cold or microwave it. Get all fancy and make it mulled with this quick recipe from Bobby Flay. Throw it in your blender with some ice and make a slushy.
- Set up an apple cider bar. Have some friends over and create a spread akin to an ice cream sundae bar. Set out mix-ins or toppings like cinnamon sugar, whipped cream, caramel syrup, cider donuts, and gingersnap cookies. This would be fun to have at a kid’s fall birthday party.
- Bake an apple treat to eat alongside your cider. Try this German apple cake or these apple squares. Bonus: your house will smell like cinnamon deliciousness as it bakes!
- Host an apple cider stand. The kids in my neighborhood love to host stands of all sorts: lemonade, popsicle, snow cone, cotton candy — especially when their elementary school is having a fundraiser. Help your kid set up an apple cider stand like the one pictured above to raise money for a good cause. Or make them work to save up for that Oculus they’ve been begging for.
- Whip up some apple snacks with your kids. Here are some easy, healthy ideas.
- Plan next year’s apple-picking weekend. Although North Carolina’s apple season is already over by the time Apple Cider Day rolls around, you can take this opportunity to plan next year’s visit. Late August through mid-October is prime apple time. Henderson county grows about 70% of North Carolina’s apples and is less than a four-hour drive from Charleston. Hendersonville, and the surrounding area, is beautiful and has plenty of orchards to choose from, as well as wineries, outdoor activities, and a charming downtown. Plan your trip for over Labor Day weekend and you’ll be there for the North Carolina Apple Festival.
- Buy scented cleaning supplies. The Mrs. Meyers Apple Cider scented dish soap has turned washing pots and pans into an aromatherapy experience for me. I don’t dread this task anymore because it makes my kitchen smell so delectable. The all-purpose spray also encourages me to wipe down surfaces more often just to get a whiff. It’s only seasonal so I’m thinking of stockpiling the stuff. I can’t live without it. Get yourself to Target and buy some, stat!