Remember back to 2009. Can you recall a time when finding a hard cider on Oregon grocery store shelves was nearly impossible? It seemed that the closer one got to apple country, the further afield purchasing hard cider became. Fast forward to today, and hard cider is everywhere. In fact, Portland has the most cider per capita of any city in the United States. What difference a decade makes.
Now, with so many cider-purchasing options in place, we stumble over the flipside of the coin; learning which ciders our palates prefer, what foods to pair with which ciders, and what to do with that open bottle of cider sitting in the fridge (as if this ever happens!). Fortunately, Portland has the upcoming event, "Cider Rite of Spring," to educate us on all things cider. Thanks to this fun-filled festival, produced by NW Cider Association, a local non-profit trade organization founded in 2010, we can sip ciders, talk to Oregon and Washington cider makers, purchase unique one-off ciders not regularly sold in stores, and learn a thing or two about cider. 1,300 guests will have the opportunity to attend the event this Saturday, April 6, 2019.
Executive director, Emily Ritchie, says the Cider Rite of Spring 2019 will offer a "style guide" of sorts to educate cider enthusiasts through the four main categories of cider: heritage (apple), modern (apple), heritage (perry), and modern (perry). P.S. "Perry" is a style of cider made from fermented pears.
Portland's beloved cheese guru and winner of the 2011 Cheesemonger Invitational, Steve Jones, recently released his book "Cheese Beer Wine Cider: A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings." Co-authored with Adam Lindsley, Jones consistently brings a thoughtful, considered approach to his endeavors. Moving readers further afield from the typical pairing of wine and cheese, this book is sure to provide us with multiple cheese and cider suggestions. Regarding cider and cheese, a combination found on Jones's Cheese Bar and Chizu restaurant menus, we are sure to get the best and most complete cider pairing information to date. Although the busy Jones will not be in attendance at Cider Rite of Spring, Whole Foods will showcase three of Cascadia Creamery's cheeses with three ciders on the main floor of the event at Left Bank Annex.
How does one use leftover cider, you ask? Not only will Cider Rite of Spring feature a Cooking with Cider class and a twenty-minute cheese pairing training, Finnriver Farm's will conduct a course to answer your cider-cocktail questions.
In a hurry to create a cider cocktail tonight? Jana Daisy-Ensign, National Cider Ambassador from Washington's Finnriver Farm & Cidery shares two cider cocktail recipes here:
Honey Meadow Mimosa
This is a fresh, spring-inspired take on a mimosa. Bringing cider front and center.
4oz Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Cider (or sub an alternative brut bubbly)
2oz Finnriver Honey Meadow Cider (or other light, botanically infused cider)
Splash of Finnriver Raspberry Brandywine for light pink color
Garnish with a lemon twist
Finnriver Stone Fence
This pre-colonial American cocktail is brought to life on the Finnriver Farm and, now, in your own home.
2oz Finnriver Pommeau (or sub Finnriver Spirited Apple Wine for a lighter version)
Splash of bitters
Served on the rocks, garnish with a thin apple slice
Too tired after a hard day to tempt these two recipes? Here's a low-brow suggestion: Simply grab a cold beer and a bottle of cider. Combine the two in whatever clean-ish vessel you have on hand. This, my friends, is what we call a "Snakebite." Traditionally, the Snakebite is a combination of equal parts lager and cider with cider on the bottom and a float of lager on the top. While this makes for a punk rock presentation, it is not required.
Cocktail lovers have seen a surge of spirits made with botanicals. Featured prominently in contemporary styles of gin, botanicals now equal more than just juniper berries. Such is the case with cider creation, too. A botanical cider competition featuring Mount Rose Herbs from Eugene, Oregon is a new element of Cider Rite of Spring. NW Cider Association's Ritchie says she is looking forward to nectar, tea leaves, chamomile, and rose hips in this botanical cider contest.
Are you more intrigued than before? Check out Darlene Hayes' 2015 book, "Cider Cocktails-Another Bite of the Apple." Considered a defining history of cider, including recipes for stand-alone cider cocktails, cider punches and fizzes, this is the first cider cocktail book published since Prohibition.
[Cider Rite of Spring. Saturday, April 6, 2019. Left Bank Annex. Tickets available through merctickets.com and at the door, if not sold out. Wanna skip on-line ticket fees? Tickets are available at McMenamins Bottle Shop on NW 23rd and Thurman.]