The East End is now well established as home to some fabulous wines in the Hamptons and on the North Fork, but heads have also begun turning for our fantastic hard ciders. At its core, hard cider is made from fermented apple juice, but regional winemakers and brewers have been infusing it with all sorts of wonderfully innovative ingredients, applying their craft and getting some incredible results over the past decade. The hard ciders are as varied as the Twin Forks population, and this is only the beginning.
Take a look at the hard ciders area wineries, breweries and full-fledged cideries are bringing to our bountiful East End table.
2711 Sound Avenue, Calverton
A true cidery in every sense, Riverhead Ciderhouse offers a multitude of inventive cider flavors, including PB&J (yes, it’s peanut butter and jelly flavored), Blackberry Habanero, Cinnamon Toast, Poolside Pineapple and B.A.M. (Barrel Aged Maple) to name just a few. They also have plenty of classic flavor profiles for those who enjoy something a bit more traditional. A number of varieties are available in bottles at retailers across Long Island, but their 8,000-square-foot facility—including tasting room, food, in-house entertainment and retail space—is a must-see spot, especially if you want to try the wildest flavors available on tap. Call 631-591-0217 or visit riverheadcider.com
729 Route 25 (Main Road), Aquebogue
This North Fork cidery has been crafting delicious hard ciders in a variety of refreshing flavors since 2012. Four reliable staples are always available, including traditional dry and sweet variations, as well as raspberry and cinnamon apple—but Woodside Orchards also makes an array of other options at different times of the year. Try the apricot and pumpkin apple blends on tap for fall, and come back for seasonal goodies like ginger apple, lemon apple and pineapple cider, among others. Stop by to see what’s pouring and enjoy all kinds of apple goodies, U-pick apples and more. Call 631-722-5770 or visit woodsideorchards.com
139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack
Among the most beautiful spots to drink in the Hamptons sunset, Wölffer Estate Vineyard is well known for their wine, but their hard cider has also been getting attention since it was introduced back in 2013. Wölffer’s winemaker Roman Roth puts as much thought and love into his cider as he does his wines, and it shows. The No. 139 range comes in several profiles, designated much like Wölffer’s wines in red, dry white and dry rosé, a low-calorie and low-alcohol LoRo rosé, an herb-infused Botanical variety, and the new, minty Grüner, which is a limited release. Each has a lovely, attractively packaged bottle and its own refreshing, sophisticated taste born of a carefully curated selection of apples sourced locally from the Halsey family, owners of the Milk Pail in Water Mill. Wӧlffer’s cider range is available via their website in bottles and cans (rosé only). Or stop by the winery to enjoy by the glass and take in that legendary sunset. Call 631-537-5106 or visit wolffer.com
1927 Scuttle Hole Road, Bridgehampton
Another winery jumping into the cider game this year, Channing Daughters is introducing their very first sparkling grape cider made with the vineyard’s own grapes and, like Wӧlffer, apples grown and crushed at the Halsey’s family farm. Winemaker and partner Christopher Tracy creates the cider in the “methode ancestrale” style, also known as petillant naturel or pét-nat, meaning the cider is bottled during the initial fermentation process, allowing the sugars to form bubbles naturally. Channing Daughters says the new cider is a “super delicious, fun wine that is ridiculously easy to pair foods and play with.” Find it at the winery or at The Milk Pail in Water Mill. Call 631-537-7224 or visit channingdaughters.com
Jamesport Farm Brewery
5873 Sound Avenue, Riverhead
In addition to their popular beers, Jamesport Farm Brewery offers Doc’s New England cider, a special, New England-style draft cider fermented with raisins and brown sugar for a full-bodied, balanced sweetness with the crisp flavor of apples, also sourced locally from the Halsey’s farm and Milk Pail in Water Mill. Drop in for a drink at the tasting room and stay for what’s cooking in the well-stocked food truck. Call 844-JFB-BEER (844-532-2337) or visit jfbrewery.com
Po’ Boy Brewery
200 Wilson Street, Unit E3, Port Jefferson Station
Open since 2013, this family-owned brewery and cidery traces its roots to the local and national homebrew scene, where president and brew master Bob Rodriguez earned a stellar reputation and a nice collection of 34 awards. Po’ Boy has a rotating selection of unique house-made ciders and hard seltzers available on tap or in cans or growlers that are worth the trip west of the Hamptons and North Fork to visit their tasting room and “Sour Patch” for a drink.
Try creative blends, such as Monkey Fruit cider made with bananas and strawberries, along with the apple base that qualifies it as a true cider. Other fall offerings include Death St-our, a sour cider made with blackberry and lemonade, and the very popular Crisp-Bee Apple Pie cider, made with a majority of honey crisp apples and cinnamon—and served on-site with a cinnamon rim—so it tastes just like an apple pie! Call 631-828-1131 or visit poboybrewery.com