September in Buffalo is so beautiful- the leaves are falling, the sweaters come out and the scent of pumpkin spice lattes perfumes the air. Consumers are moving towards rich, buttery Chardonnays and plush, soft Syrahs and Grenaches, and now is also the perfect time for cider!
Hard cider has pretty much always been a thing- people have been producing alcoholic ciders since even before the Romans!- but in the U.S., the popularity of these drinks has spiked in the past few years, and now you’ll find a pretty stellar selection anywhere.
Classically, France and the U.K. are renowned for their hard ciders, but this is New York, and in this country, New York is apple country! Check out some of our favorites:
From right in our own backyard of Niagara county, Leonard Oakes winery produces two of my go-to ciders. The Steampunk is their classic bottling- effervescent and mildly sweet with intense apple and pear flavors.
Steampunk Eloquince ($11.99)
The Eloquince is a more modern take on cider- a hybrid of apple cider and quince wine. A member of the citrus family, quince adds vibrancy and lots of acidity to the wine, giving it a drier feel and a fun freshness.
Just down the road here on Transit is a place you might know- and if you don’t, you definitely should!- Mayer Brothers! Famed for non-alcoholic cider, some of the best doughnuts in Western New York and the most amazing chili seasoning, Mayer Bros is also home to McKenzie’s Hard Cider. The original is crafted in the U.K. style, moderately sweet and super juicy, with excellent lift and refreshing mouthfeel.
With all of your favorite flavors of the season- pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger- all in one package, the PumpkinJack is pretty much autumn in a bottle. This one is seasonal, so pick it up while you can!
Founder’s Reserve Hopped ($12.99)
A drier style with added hops, the 1911 cider is perfect for beer drinkers and often is the cider that appeals best to whiskey drinkers, as well. Aromatic and pretty but with a bit of a kick on the finish. Buy two because this one is amazing to cook with as well!