November 2, 2012
Autumn is heaven for cider lovers, and cider-making partners Rich Smithson and Luigi Desiato have several treats in store for those who love these kinds of nectars. In a rustic barn deep in the woods outside Pipersville, Pa., the two are in their second year of turning an autumn apple crop into a retro hard cider that has developed a following in both the suburbs and in several of Philadelphia’s best beer bars.
Desiato Double Barrel Hard Apple Cider was first served on tap at Mamma D’s, chef Desiato’s popular Pipersville restaurant. Positive reaction from patrons at the bar encouraged the fledgling cider makers to begin selling it to other venues. It debuted in Philadelphia at a 2011 summer beer festival at the quirky Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly, among an assembly of firkins — 5.5 gallon mini-kegs — of craft beer from across the region. It was the first time that the bar had served anything other than beer at its annual Friday the 13th event.
Some drinkers pass over hard cider, saying it's too sweet and sticky. But fans of Desiato Cider insist it has an effervescent, silken texture and a dry, almost nutty finish.
Smithson blends up to four different varieties of apples for their brew, most recently Golden, Red Delicious, Winesap and Fuji, adding Bosc pears when the crush of apples needs flavor balance. Champagne yeast is added and the juice and pulp ferment and aged in Laird applejack barrels. Depending on the mix of fruit, it can take from six to nine months to produce the cider.
Desiato Cider can be found at Mamma D’s Restaurant & Winery, Pipersville; Tohickon Pub, Pipersville; Gravel Pike Inn, Collegeville; Iron Abbey, Horsham; Grey Lodge Pub, Mayfair; Hop Angel Brauhaus, Fox Chase; McCoole’s Red Lion Tavern, Quakertown; London Grill, Fairmount.
Still not sold on straight-up cider? Try it in one of Smithson's cocktail recipes:
4 oz. hard cider
1 oz. Drambuie (a sweet Scotch whisky liqueur)
Pour Drambuie in a martini glass and top with cider. Stir gently.
4-6 oz. hard cider
1 sugar cube
Strawberry, sliced for garnish
Soak sugar cube in 3-4 drops of the bitters. Place sugar in the bottom of a champagne flute. Top gently with cider. Garnish with strawberry slice.
32 oz. hard cider
I orange, sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced
1 pear, cored and sliced
Pour cider into a large pitcher or wide-mouthed jug. Add sliced fruit. Gently stir. Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to eight hours. Strain into white wine glasses. Garnish with additional orange slices, if desired.