Apple orchards in upstate New York are packed with people enjoying the intense harvest, especially on the weekend. You pay for an empty bag, and wander the many rows of trees sporting every kind of apple you can conceive, picking your favorites from the weighty branches. Its a wonderful way to enjoy a sunny-crisp fall day, and think of how those apples will be transformed into a pie, a cobbler, or another way of getting into your belly.
Most of the orchards sweeten your experience in a variety of ways. Some offer hayrides, corn mazes, and certainly jugs of freshly pressed cider. The busiest establishments upgrade your experience by offering homemade, hot out of the cauldron donuts made with apple cider and rolled in cinnamon sugar. As you arrive at the orchard the apple cinnamon aroma in the air makes you lose control, at least of your wallet. Rarely does a bag of either donuts, donut holes or fritters actually make it home with you. Because you’re not a quitter….
One of upstate NY’s quintessential orchard is 1911, formerly Beak and Skiff, just outside of Skaneateles. The family-owned orchard has made cider donuts for decades, and in just the last few years, a new generation has augmented the humble operations to include a killer distillery for both apple vodka and a range of delicious hard ciders.
New on the shelves for this season is their CIDER DONUT HARD CIDER. Pouring it out of the sizable can you see the clarity of well-brewed apple cider. The taste offers the vanilla-toast of a delicious cake donut, a hint of cinnamon from the traditional topping, and certainly the sweetness you’d expect- both from a delicious donut and a ripe apple. The finish is definitely sweet, not unlike a sugary donut. The balance between apple flavor and donut flavor is nearly perfect, and both translate naturally- no artificial aftertaste at all, often a sad hallmark of flavor-infused hard ciders.
My initial impression was this would be too much for me as an aperitif or on its own, because it is both very sweet and very rich. My suggestion for how best to enjoy this cider came at the end of the photo shoot of the pic posted here. I popped the donut hole in my mouth and followed it quickly by a guzzle of the cider. Perfect! In some ways the cakey-donut hole balanced the sweetness of the cider. We’re planning to serve this as a dessert beverage after our next round of apple crisp, cake or pie. And, FYI, the product is Gluten-Free!
We’re very happy to add this new cider to our fall apple harvest experience!