Before the mid-19th century, the “term” cider referred to fermented (alcoholic, or “hard”) cider. Hard cider was a staple of the English colonials’ diet. Unsure of the water supply, settlers immediately planted orchards and hard cider was the drink of the day.
Then came Prohibition, urbanization and an influx of other settlers who preferred beer. Hard cider all but disappeared from the menu until the late 20th century, when artisanal hard cider making began a renaissance. As has the growing of specialty hard-cider apple varieties that are inedible raw, and have strange names like Esopus Spitzenburg and Foxwhelp.
For a list of New York-based hard cider makers, visit www.NYCider.com.