Seattle Is Having a Cider Boom. These Are the Best Spots to Drink It.
Hey cider-heads, good news! You don’t have to fly to the UK, or that super-far Basque region, for good cider anymore. Stateside, Washington is one of the top five cider-producing states, and while Seattle’s microbrewing scene has been going strong for decades, there’s also an expanding plethora of options where you can drink local and imported cider on tap. Throughout the city, bartenders are pouring tons of fermented apple nectar, from classic dry and Champagne styles, to more experimental seasonal flavors, like habanero, passion fruit, and rhubarb. If you haven't sampled some yet, you're going to want to soon.
These folks hold the title for Seattle’s first cider bar (and the country’s second). They serve over 20 ciders on tap and over 150 total, not to mention a large selection of brandy, which is also made of apples -- distilled rather than fermented. Cider doesn’t include gluten, and neither does the kitchen here: it serves ridiculously delicious and hearty gluten-free dishes like glazed root veggies, pork chops, or a juicy steak. Capitol Cider also features live music on weekends, Monday jam sessions, and Tuesday game nights.
This bottle shop has over 50 rotating taps, typically split down the middle between cider and beer, and over 1,000 bottled beers. If you like what you’re drinking, kegs and growlers are available. On weekends (and during nice weather), it’s best to come hungry and enjoy the patio while munching from a local food truck -- check the website for today’s selection, which could be Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max or Seattle Biscuit Co.
Taste a full flight at Schilling Cider House, where you'll see 32 cider taps with innovative flavors, including Grumpy Bear nitro cider (which is packed with cold-brewed coffee). A good space for groups, it also has board games like Apples to Apples and Battleship. For those interested in delving further into the cider world, Schilling Cider House offers cider-making classes for $40.
The Woods serve as a tasting room for Two Beers Brewing and Seattle Cider Company, both of which are located right next door to the Industrial District location. Seattle Cider Company, whose ciders are on display here, was Seattle’s first cidery following Prohibition. It uses Washington apples, and has a selection of small-batch year-round flavors like dry and off-dry; seasonal infusions including basil mint and pumpkin spice; limited editions like gin botanical cider; and special harvests such as Washington heirloom. The Woods is also the first stationary location for Bread & Circuses, which offers a menu of gluttonous shareable plates such as duck fat popcorn and sourdough donuts with pear compote & foie gras mousse.
Along with its 100% Washington-apple based cider options, which come in seasonal combinations such as jalapeño pineapple, and stable menu items like the delicious, almost Spanish sidra-style dry, Number 6 Cider has some great gastropub food, including street tacos and kalettes, a new super-veggie hybrid between Brussels sprouts and kale. Plus, the patio backs up to active train tracks, and plans are to expand it right to the edge.
Naked City is an easy place to spend a whole day, complete with a library, beer garden, and a dining room/theater called The Screening Room, where you can catch stand-up comedy, live jazz, poetry, and other community events. Add to that six cider taps, 34 rotating house and guest brews, and a locally sourced food menu, and a person could camp out for hours.
Beveridge Place Pub has a selection of 36 taps of brews and ciders, and its friendly bartenders can help you decide which ones to taste. While you’re there, check out the back bar -- it was salvaged from an auction in Kent and restored to its original 1907 state. Aside from the throwback bar, the place is replete with comfy couches and chessboards where you can challenge new foes on Thursdays. Beveridge Place Pub also has pool tables, shuffleboard, and bowls of Goldfish and other salty snacks. It doesn’t have a kitchen, but encourages delivery from any of the handful of nearby restaurants, so you can enjoy whatever West Seattle food your heart desires without having to relocate your whole squad. Check the website for special events, like sour beer & rare cider tastings.
Rather than a taproom with games, this is actually a game store with taps. Let your inner geek enjoy some drinks while playing Dungeons & Dragons, Magic, or your choice of the other RPGs it hosts regular nights to play. Occasionally, the game nights are even in benefit of local nonprofits, including the West Seattle Food Bank -- and who doesn’t like having a drink for a good cause?
The Beer Junction is a bottle shop & bar where you can sip a selection of cider on tap or peruse the selection of over 1,300 bottles in-house. Taste everything on tap, fill up a growler, or discover a new taste from the over 50 countries where The Beer Junction sources their brews.
Next time you need to meet your friends with kids at a place that is stroller-friendly but still has solid burgers and a local cider selection, Two Doors Down is the play. This place has at least four local ciders on tap at any given time, and is outfitted with distractions like Etch A Sketches for tykes, while still offering a nod to adults with dishes like the 420 Burger, a monster dripping with Tillamook white cheddar cheese, Swiss, caramelized onions, and deep-fried avocado, and served on a brioche bun with a fried egg in the hole.
Located on the north side of Seattle, Hellbent pours a large selection of its own brews as well as guest mixes and Pacific Northwest ciders. In the downstairs tasting room, you can entertain yourself with pinball, challenge a buddy to a game of pool or darts, or overlook the brewer’s deck. Bring out your random factoids on Tuesdays, when it hosts a weekly “Geeks who Drink” trivia night. Check the website for the schedule of rotating food trucks, which regularly include Nosh and Wood Shop BBQ.
Elliot Bay is all about high-quality organic beers and ciders. Once a year (typically in November), it has a barrel-aged invitational that features barrel-aged ciders and beers. Once a week (Mondays in West Seattle, Tuesday in Lake City and Burien), growlers are half off. If you’re not organized enough to schedule one of those days, don’t worry; it offers a cider sampling flight daily, as well as a seasonal pairing menu.
The George & Dragon is a true neighborhood pub, where you can scarf down an English breakfast, enjoy a fresh glass of Magners, and yell at a Sunday Sounders game. It also has quiz night, pool night, and a super-chill patio.
The tree-lined back porch is reason enough to visit The Lookout, whose name suits the view of Downtown Seattle from the west side of Capitol Hill. It has an afternoon happy hour on Saturday (or Sunday), which is a perfect time to enjoy said view. And if for some reason you’ve been trying to find your shot/cider combo, it also has a “cocktail” that is a schooner of Angry Orchard cider with a shot of Fireball inside. It also offers games like Cranium, pinball, and dominoes, and a wide array of food options, from hot wings and burgers to fried quinoa nuggets and coconut shrimp.
Their locust-and-crossbones labels can be found throughout the northwest, but it’s best to go straight to the source in the warehouse district of Woodinville. Locust Cider features Pacific Northwest ciders in seasonal flavors like mango and dark cherry, all of which can be enjoyed inside its laid-back tasting room, or outside, while playing a rousing game of cornhole and enjoying food from a selection of food trucks that changes daily. As if that’s not enough reason to go, a portion of cider sales goes to help children with hydrocephalus, a rare brain condition.
The Pine Box by now is more famous for its cocktails than the building's actual history, which is surprising considering it’s located in an old mortuary. Here, they always serve a choice of at least two local ciders, along with cocktails, artisan beers, fancy brunch, and other delicious bites. Stop by here during the Capitol Hill Art Walk to see showcased local art.
Elemental’s goal is to make fruity ciders and mimic sparkling wine in a light, fruity, effervescent way. They cold-ferment Pacific Northwest apples to develop delicacy in taste, and offer over 12 seasonal selections at any given time, infused with flavors such as acai and pomegranate.
Take the ferry to Vashon Island to sample ciders from the orchard, where the apples are sourced from over 1500 trees. The vast estate collection includes wild fermented ciders, and a deliciously crisp perry as well. The tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 12-5pm.
Nashi Orchards focuses most of its efforts on pears. All of its ciders are technically “perry,” the pear version of hard cider, which is becoming more and more prevalent. The orchard and facilities are open for weekend visits, and it has a garden where you can pretend you’re picnicking in a Renoir painting in Normandy.