You can hold a cider tasting.
Hold a quickly put together, casual, festive, but rarely offered gathering which you can put together with two simple stops and a few calls to invite friends around cocktail hour.
If you had not considered cider a great source of merriment before, it might interest you to know there are more ciders in production that one might imagine. There are hundreds of varieties between the cider poured at apple orchards in my hometown, and the proliferation of hard ciders which are naturally especially apparent in the fall. One could hold a cider tasting in the autumn as easily as a wine tasting.
And I dare say, you should: Quick and painless for the host or hostess, pleasant, new, and a breath of fresh air for the guests.
Cider takes many different forms beyond the standard white-label sparkling variety with which we are all familiar. Begin at the liquor store in collusion with your merchant. If you have a good one, they will instruct you in the finer points of the ciders available to you. You might consider fresh, dry, medium-dry, sweet, champagne, French, or English to offer to your guests. As you can see, one company alone makes enough to throw an easy soiree...
You may find some fabulous serving vessels. Cider's popularity was like that of beer during the 18th and 19th centuries, and like beer it had serving vessels all its own. A cider glass, a long stemmed version of a pilsner, which holds a pint of cider can be hard to find but a pilsner makes a good stand-in. A handled hot cider cup, often in sterling and pewter with a glass inset held hot ciders but can be easily replaced by glass punch cups.
Attractive and functional glass rentals of pilsners can be had from your local party supply for very little and are more practical than storing 40 pilsners.
Then, add a couple of signature cider cocktails for good measure; A Mulled Cider with Calvados or a Wassail punch spiked with brandy or spiced rum would round out the offerings nicely, just be sure you have cocktail standards for those who are not cider fans.
Serve a selection of great nibbles: Get the local cheese shop or counter's help in selecting a mix of cheeses to present with the cider. They will also have a more interesting variety of crackers than the supermarket. You might also include the cider fondue which I uncovered for you last year, and should you need them, Blushing's fondue service and etiquette tips appear here.
What do you think? Are a cider tasting and some great cocktail snacks your future?
Read more about cider's popularity throughout history here.
Photo credits: Jahn Hayes, Dragon Orchard Cider, anylea, Southern Living, weddingteeparties