Ice cider is a flavorful dessert wine made from the concentrate of cider frozen in Vermont’s winters. It originated in southern Quebec, and Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders has been leading the work to make it a Vermont signature product. Last year, DigInVT paid a visit to Eden Specialty Ciders in the NEK, you can read the story here. Eleanor gave us some tips on serving and pairing ice cider. Here are some of her ideas (edited and with additional resources added by the DigInVT crew).
To learn more about ice cider and to taste it for yourself, the Vermont Fresh Network, Mad River Taste Place, and the Vermont Grape and Wine Council are hosting a tasting of ice cider, mead, and (non-grape) fruit wines from 5:30 - 7:00pm on Tuesday, October 23rd in Waitsfield. Bring a friend, sample, chat with winemakers, and learn why sweeter profile wines are not just for dessert.
Basics of Ice Cider
- Ice cider is unique in the world to our region, Southern Quebec and Vermont.
- Ice cider presents interesting pairing opportunities for tasting menus and special dinners, especially paired with Vermont’s stand out foods of cheeses, salumi, and maple.
- Ice cider in cocktails brings high-intensity flavor and some sweetness in a very small amount.
- For more details - a basic overview published previously on DigInVT in November of 2015.
- A Seven Days article in February of 2015 that includes tasting notes/observations on popular Vermont ice ciders (note: there are many more varieties now).
When to serve Ice Cider
- Ice cider pairs well with anything that would go well with apples - apple cakes, apple/ pear tart, bread pudding, maple creme brulee, cheesecake, anything with salted caramel.
- For a table that is out for a special occasion, pour tiny .5 oz. samples at the end of the meal. It feels like you've done something special for them.
- Incorporate a small shot of ice cider in your next dessert or poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Serve ice cider in addition to a cheese course; it is a classic pairing for foie gras, cheese souffle, and other high fat and salt dishes.
- Use 1/2 oz. of ice cider in a cocktail for a burst of apple flavor and sweetness. The first cocktail in Vermont made with ice cider was at Stowe Mountain Lodge and blended Vermont vodka with Eden Heirloom ice cider and sweet apple cider.
Other Ice Cider Preparation Ideas
Here we’ve wandered away from Eleanor’s advice to exploring on the Internet, home of many great and many not-great ideas, be your own judge (okay, chorizo lollipops and cake pairings, those we have vetted. . .).
- Honey-Poached Chestnuts, Blue Cheese, Eden Ice Cider.
- Paste Magazine is bullish on vanilla donuts & ice cider.
- On a practical cost of ingredients basis, this peach tart tatin may not be in the cards. . . but it probably tastes really good (and replacing the ice cider syrup with a modest shot of ice cider would likely do the trick).
- Chorizo lollipops with a shot of ice cider (the lollipop recipe courtesy of Penelope Casas). Who knew you could burn so many fingers on just one recipe?
- Cake pairing recommendations include: Carrot Cake, Chestnut Chocolate Cake, Almond & Rose Cake, and Lemon Curd Tart. Also, remember how Laurie Colwin really liked old fashioned gingerbread cake, preferably with Steen’s cane syrup? That, too.
Finally, a few cocktail concepts for inspiration:
- Ice Cider Basil Royale
- Vermont Ice Cider Cocktail
- A long cocktail list from Quebec (technically they had ice cider first, so it’s okay)
- In which Ice Cider meets Guinness Extra Stout and apparently it works
- Cider Sangria
- The 2017 Best Sip winner at the Vermont Fresh Network Annual Forum Dinner was Eden Specialty Ciders and a cocktail by Michael Dunn with 1.5 oz Orleans Wood, 2 oz Blueberry Lemonade, and topped with Eden sparkling semi-dry cider with fresh blueberries to garnish.
(This post is adapted from a February 2018 Vermont Fresh Network article)