Want to take your wedding toast to the next level? Ditch the Champagne and raise a glass of hard cider instead. And we’re not talking juice boxes, as the American misnomer suggests.
Cider is an centuries-old alcoholic beverage made with fermented apples, first made in Europe. The drink (categorized as medium sweet, dry or off-dry) is popping up on wine menus and squeezing its way onto liquor store shelves nationwide.
Similar to the craft beer industry, artisanal cider makers are making a name for themselves with their own unique varieties. Business is booming; people are drinking. “There is no better time to be a cider maker,” says Jimmy Santangelo, Beverage Director of La Salle & Trio Restaurant Group and Wine Academy of Utah. Cidercraft magazine quotes data from global marketing researcher IRI reporting cider sales “rose 85 percent from 2012 to 2013 and 58 percent from 2013 to 2014.” They’re expecting more increases. Santangelo says, “[Our restaurants] are celebrating cider because no one else in Utah is doing it.”
What does this mean for weddings?
“Cider in the new Champagne,” says Salt Lake magazine editor and culinary insider Mary Malouf. Because the new bubbly is refreshing and has about the same alcohol levels as beer, it appeals to a broader audience, making it a hit for big events. Hard cider isn’t only for toasting. Serve up a “his” or “hers” custom cocktail of hard cider and garnish with mint, pear or citrus.