How do you like these apples?
A new restaurant and bar devoted to hard apple cider has opened in Bushwick, and it aims to convert people to the wonders of the fruit-based booze. One of the founders of the Brooklyn Cider House says the barn-like space on Flushing Avenue is an attempt to recreate the environment that first opened his eyes to cider’s possibilities.
“It was a magical moment — and I just saw stars. I wanted to really have people get that experience that I had,” said Peter Yi,
Yi, who grew up in Bensonhurst, spent years working in the wine industry, but a visit to a Spanish cider farm, where he sampled the apple drink at a communal dinner, set him on a new path.
“When I had it, with the food — it changed my life,” he said. “I fell in love, head over heels.”
Yi and some partners soon bought an orchard in the Hudson Valley, and began working to create a cider that would live up to Yi’s standard. But it is not just about the apple concoction — Yi said he wants to duplicate the whole experience, with the food, the people, and the drinks.
“If I just made the cider, people would not get it — it’s too funky, it’s weird,” he said. “You have to have it under the right context to really get it.”
That context involves a five-course prix fixe meal, with rich chorizo, grilled vegetables, fish, steak, and a cheese plate (a vegetarian option is also available), served at a communal table. Between each course, diners are led to one of six enormous casks in the middle of the giant restaurant. Each holds between two and three thousand gallons of cider, each from a different apple variety, and aged a different length of time.
After turning a spigot, the cider leaps out in a wide arc, with guests lining up to capture it in their pint glasses — a process that aerates the cider and gives it extra flavor. Depending on age and variety, the ciders can taste like a fine dry wine, or a funky lemonade.
Brooklyn Cider House makes four varieties of cider: Kinda Dry, Bone Dry, Half Sour, and Raw. But the full expression of the drink comes from the latter version, said Yi.
“All the cider that we make is a gateway to get you to try the Raw,” said Yi, “because Raw is really the ultimate cider.”
Those who cannot devote two-and-a-half hours to a full meal at the Cider House can also pop in to the bar, which serves drinks by the glass and bar snacks — including a decadent burger. In a few weeks, the restaurant plans to add ciders made by other companies, along with a full bar of liquor.
Yi hopes that the Cider House will become a regular destination for local cider fans and their friends.
“I think it’s a place where you go and have fun with friends and family. It’s a great gathering place for people to celebrate life,” he said.
Brooklyn Cider House [1100 Flushing Ave. between Irving and Knickerbocker avenues in Bushwick, (347) 295–0308, www.brook