In spite of the occasional 75-degree sneak attack (“I’ll never let go!”- Summer 2015), the calendar says fall has arrived in Brooklyn, so who are we to argue. And as far as seasonal booze is concerned, the dessert-in-a-pint known as pumpkin ale tends to reign supreme. Now, let’s be clear: we at Brokelyn love us some pumpkin ale (to the point of creating a definitive list of the best!). But we need not think of it as the be-all-and-end-all of getting your autumnal drink on…not when hard cider exists in the world! Cider is having a moment right now; there’s even a Manhattan bar completely dedicated to tap ciders from around the world. Brooklyn might not have an all-cider-all-the-time spot, but there are plenty of neighborhood bars with cider lists that extend beyond the usual Magner’s and Woodchuck. Here are a few great options:
210 Prospect Park West, Windsor Terrace
As far as neighborhoods go, Windsor Terrace has a lot going for it: serene, residential blocks, close proximity to Prospect Park, and a top-notch watering hole in the form of Double Windsor. It’s a craft beer bar and gastropub with a homey wooden interior, a solid menu of comfort food staples (the sriracha honey chicken wings are addictive!), and a well-curated tap selection ranging from 6-10 bucks per pint. When it comes to cider, there’s usually a draft option and a couple of bottled offerings. The small cider list allows Double Windsor to be especially discerning, so you can count on a great pick every time. Check out Vermont-based Citizen Cider’s The Full Nelson ($7 a bottle), a dry-hopped cider with refreshing citrus notes.
899 Bergen St, Crown Heights
This massive beer hall from the geniuses behind Smorgasburg is the perfect one-stop-shop for weekend (or weekday! I’m not here to judge!) revelry. Bench seating for big groups of friends? Check. Delicious food options from Mighty Quinn’s, Ed and Bev’s, and more? SUPER check. A full bar with excellent beer and cider options? You betcha. They’ve currently got four bottled ciders on their list, as well as one tap selection. The latter is my personal pick; it’s the draft cider ($6) from upstate’s Naked Flock cidery, a dry version fermented with Belgian Trappist yeast and slightly sweetened with organic maple syrup. Could it be more fall-friendly? Nope. That’s Peak Autumn right there.
61 Bergen St, Cobble Hill
Every time I walk past this Cobble Hill pub, it’s packed to the gills with groups of locals, like a hip Brooklyn version of Cheers. It’s easy to see why; 61 Local has a great menu of sandwiches and shareables, a killer brunch, and lots of local brews on their tap list, ranging from $5-$8 a pint. Their draft cider of the moment is the Pom Pomme Sparking Dry from Queens’ own Descendant Cider Company. It’s a light and apple-forward cider with a floral element to balance out the fruit. In other words, it’s dangerously easy to drink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
615 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint
Scandinavian-inspired Greenpoint bar Tørst is famous for its beer selection, and for good reason; one of the owners is Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso, the Danish wunderkind behind Evil Twin Brewing Company. In addition to their unparalleled tap list, Tørst offers a diverse array of bottled ciders from all around the world. Prices can vary depending on the rarity of the cider, but most bottles hover in the $25-40 range (yes, a bit steep, but well-worth a ‘treat yo self’ moment!). Don’t miss the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie, an unfiltered French cider with a lively tang and just the right amount of funk. It pairs wonderfully with Tørst’s Danish rye bread and farmhouse cheese. Skål (That’s ‘cheers’ in Danish)!
359 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg
If you’re a beer lover in NYC, you’ve no doubt made it to this brew mecca on Metropolitan Ave. Sputyen Duyvil is a dim, cozy bar that prides itself in an eclectic, international beer list, ranging from $6 drafts to rare bottles with prices to match. They take the same care with their cider selections, choosing a few interesting bottled options that they swap out every month or so. As with the beer, the cider prices can get stratospheric, but you can always snag a quality bottle (at 750ml, the size of a bottle of wine, so perfect for sharing) for under forty bucks. The highlight of their current list is Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge cider, a French dry blend of bitter and sweet apples with a crisp minerality and a lingering finish.
Longbow Pub and Pantry
7316 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge
Longbow is a classic UK-style sports pub with a charming, no-frills sensibility. Soccer fans (sorry…FOOTBALL fans) will appreciate the season-long screenings, and folks who like yummy, stick-to-your-ribs bar food and a thorough beer selection will find plenty to love about the menu. As far as cider goes, Longbow usually tries to feature at least one craft option from the UK. The current offering is Perronelle’s Blush from Aspall, a cidery based in Suffolk, England. It’s a fruity, off-dry cider with berry notes to balance out the apple flavor, and it’s mellow and adaptable enough to pair nicely with food. You can score a 17-oz bottle for $9.
228 Manhattan Ave, Williamsburg
This nautical-themed bar on the eastern reaches of Williamsburg is largely known for its potent (and delicious) punch bowls, but it also boasts one of the largest cider lists in Brooklyn. They’ve currently got bottles from all over the US (including a pineapple cider!), a few UK selections, and, most significantly, a cider from the Spanish region of Asturias. This one’s got layers upon layers of flavor, starting with a sulfuric earthiness and finishing off with a clean acidity. Basically, the Castañon Unﬁltered Basque Cider is the cloudy, golden nectar of the gods. The Drink will sell it to you by the bottle for $22, or you can do it the Spanish way by asking the bartender to lift the bottle up and give you a 3oz ‘high pour’ for $3 a pop.