Brooklyn Cider House
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It certainly doesn’t look like an orchard. The transformed brick warehouse sits across from a Pure Energy gas station and a U-Haul dealer, with nary a tree in sight. Dented tin barriers guard the entrance, and abstract grafitti (we did decipher some apples) cover the inside and outside walls, which contain spray-painted mottos—some sensical (“Ugly apples taste better”), some not so much (“If you love me I will light the room,” “Bright as a firefly defeating the sun”). Okay, Bushwick.
The bar itself employs industrial-chic touches typical of modern-day beer halls (reclaimed wood surfaces, dark metal accents), but with none of the convivial warmth of Euro-style ones. The walls are painted cloudy-day gray, the high-top tables stand spaced-out and aloof, and the ceiling is so tall, it feels hollow instead of grand. On a recent rainy afternoon, the space felt more like a mirror to the outside than a respite.
Even if an autumnal aura doesn’t envelope it, this cidery is actually the Big Apple’s very first. Head cider-maker Peter Yi ferments and ages upstate apples right on the premises in steel tanks and chestnut barrels, producing four different flavors, which the menu illustrates with a helpful tasting chart: crisp to sour and dry to sweet.
On the crisp side, the Kinda Dry is barely that, with an approachably sweet taste reminiscent of that first juicy bite from the season’s peak McIntosh; while the Half Sour is more dynamic, thanks to a third round of fermentation, with earthier aromas and subtle floral notes. One companion declared the latter flavor hers (and hers alone) and sat back in her chair sipping it like a fine wine. The Bone Dry and the Raw are both on the sour spectrum, with the former evoking a front-of-the-palate honey taste that transitions into a rich, briny elixir. The Raw packs a funkier punch, thanks to tangy, piquant flavors—“blue cheese,” the waiter suggested.
But don’t bother with the Cranapple specialty drink; it’s such an aggresively saccharine mix of the Half Sour and cranberry syrup, that even a staunch teetotaler would want to cut it with a shot of vodka.
Overall, we do like them apples, but does this uninspired cider house rule? Not so much.