Itâ€™s that time of year when apple-anything sounds good, but the fermented versions so often disappoint. Apple ciders tend to be sticky sugary, particularly those from the commercial giants that dominate the Los Angeles market (do Hornsbyâ€™s and Strongbow or the pear cider from Wyderâ€™s ring a bell?). A good cider, like beer, shouldnâ€™t be as sweet as a candy apple.
Dig a little and you can find light, bubbly ciders from Normandy, German apfelwiens, English farmhouse-style ciders and small-batch American versions You’ll typically have the most luck at smaller wine shops. Wine Expo in Santa Monica stocks ciders from Normandy (both apple and pear), and Red Carpet in Glendale typically has several American and English ciders (if it hasÂ J. K. Scrumpyâ€™s organic cider from Michigan in stock, grab it).
Here are a few of our favorite drink-in spots for high-octane apple bobbing. Remember, as with good beer, what is on hand at any given day may vary. And if you know of other haunts with good ciders, let us know.
Culver City: Look for the apple and pear ciders from small-batch producer Fox Barrel, a California brewer in the Sierra foothills. $8 for a 12-ounce bottle. You can also pick up a six-pack for a few dollars more at Bevmo.
Downtown: Go for the light, effervescent French ciders, such as the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche from Normandy. $15 a glass or $24 for a 750ml bottle.
3847 Main St., Culver City, 310.836.9463; 1050 Flower St., Downtown, 213.747.1100,Â bottlerock.net
Wandering Aengus, a dry, snappy Washington State cider, is hard to find, but they often have it here, and it’s worth the high price tag: $36 for a 750ml bottle.
7661 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.852.0008, 8ozburgerbar.com
Oddly, itâ€™s an organic English cider at this German sausage and beer hall thatâ€™s the go-to dry, high-alcohol (nearly 7%) cider. It just begs for a chubby alligator-pork andouille sausage link. Aspall English Cider, $11 for a 375ml bottle.
800 E. 3rd St., Downtown, 213. 687.4444, wurstkucherestaurant.com
Magnerâ€™s Irish Cider is made from more than a dozen apple varieties, making for a complex, food-friendly flavor. A larger producer whose cider is not as nuanced as the small-batch ones we’ve tasted, Magner’s is nonetheless a great dinner-party bargain (about $6 a pint at Finn McCool’s and many Irish bars in town, but you can also find it at Costco).
2702 Main St., Santa Monica, 310.452.1734, gerrigilliland.com/finn