Cider - An American Legacy
A land speculator, his tin hat glinting in the sun, sprinkled a handful of seeds on the earth. In time, Johnny's apple seeds sprouted, the trees grew, the branches bent, heavy with fruit.
The fruit was gathered - but it was not to be eaten. Not that tasting of the fruit was forbidden, like in Eden. No, the fruit would be used for a higher purpose: to make hard cider.
At the dawn of our country, our forefathers and mothers drank hard cider like it was water (because, in fact, in those days water was believed to be too dangerous to drink). Many of our founding fathers were avid cider drinkers including John Adams, who drank a tankard of cider every morning. Early books on U.S. pomology (the study of fruit trees), discussed in detail the best apples to cultivate for cider production. Cider apple varieties such as the Virginia Crab, Golden Russet, Winesap, Newtown Pippin, Campfield and Harrison were among the most heralded. Thomas Jefferson was an early cider connoisseur, who grew a number of prized apples on his Monticello estate for the sole purpose of making hard cider.
Then came Prohibition. Carrie Nation's axe of temperance felled cider-making operations in America. Orchards were razed, cider barrels emptied, and the tin hat rebranded.
When Prohibition lifted, hard cider making was slow to recover. Fortunately, over the past two decades a small-but-steady interest in cider has developed, and now we can proudly say a true U.S. cider revival is underway.