What’s graced your holiday table this season? Bubbly? Or maybe a bottle of fine, full-bodied red wine that you’ve reserved for the occasion? In France, they are the cornerstone of any gathering. But there is a rising star competing for attention, a drink hitherto affixed to crêpe consumption the Chandeleur celebration in February: cider! And not just any cider but modern interpretations on an old drink. To understand how consumption is changing and why we’re starting to see a more robust showing from independent cider producers on restaurant and bar menus in Paris, I spoke with the founders of Appie, one of the pioneers changing the image of cider today.
What inspired you to create a brand of cider, especially given how often the drink is associated with specific seasons or occasions (vs. an everyday drink)?
The story of Appie, is first and foremost a story about friendship. The five of us founders met during college. It was during one of our many travels together that the idea surfaced. We were having a drink in London and wanted to drink something other than beer. We realized the pub we were in served draft cider. We ordered it and knew from the first sip that it was the right choice. From then on, every apéro or dinner with friends needed to have cider and it was always the first bottle we finished.
Still, we agreed it was a shame that we couldn’t find cider the way we liked it in Paris bars…. so we created it! We launched Appie with the intention of breaking from the old and outdated image of cider. The idea was to take cider away from the crêperie, where it is most often served, and the Galette des Rois celebration for King’s Day in January, and distribute it to bars and restaurants in a classic 33cl format.
Has it been difficult to convince younger drinkers to ditch the pints for cider?
At the beginning it wasn’t easy for people to admit that cider could be consumed differently and not only on special occasions. To change people’s minds, we modernized cider’s image by creating recipes that more closely approximate today’s tastes: slightly sweet and fruity recipes, light and easy-to-drink.
We also spent time working on the design of the bottle as well, offering a 33cl format and more modern and colorful packaging than old-fashioned cider bottles. Getting Appie ciders into bars and restaurants where the customers are young and willing to discover new products, was key to getting it off the ground.
Where are your ciders made?
All of our recipes are original and can’t be found anywhere else ! We pay a special attention to the producers we work with. Located in the Normandy and Oise regions, our producers are trusted partners and produce cider in the utmost respect for traditional French production methods. All of the fruit come from orchards close to the cidery.
Thinking of food and drink pairings, what types of dishes would go well with the ciders you produce?
We have 6 original recipes and each one has its specificity. We are then able to pair different types of dishes with each cider recipe. The cider Poiré for example, which is dry and fruity, pairs very well with fish and seafood. The cider Brut au miel (honey), which is a little rounder than the other ciders, is perfect with dessert. The cider Poiré Gingembre bio (organic ginger), with its fruity and slightly peppery finish, is perfect for Asian/spiced cuisines. Lastly, the Extra Brut Bio cider, produced from a longer fermentation, is the most full-bodied and robust of our ciders and would very well pair with meats and hearty meals. Of course it goes without saying that the ciders work very well in cocktails too !
Where can we find your ciders in Paris? (And any ambition to bring them to the U.S.?)
You can find our ciders in bars like Copper Bay, Ground Control, and Le Perchoir. They also can be found in restaurants and alternative hotel bars like Café Méricourt, the Mini Palais, Dersou, Hôtel Providence, and the Grand Pigalle Hotel, among others. They are available to take away at the Grande Epicerie de Paris, at Galeries Lafayette, or at Causses. If you’re in town for a concert, you can also find it at Le Zénith concert hall bar !
As for the US, we have observed the expansion of the cider market there and that there is demand. Next year, we would like to find a local partner that could help us distribute our product and make our ciders famous all around the United States.
You heard it here first, folks! Perhaps you’ll see Appie on U.S. soil sometime next year. Until then, drink up when you’re in Paris! Follow Appie on Instagram.