There is a grand contradiction in some corners of the cider (and alcohol) world. It goes like this:
Back Then – whenever then was:
People drank cider (or alcohol of preference) because the water couldn’t be trusted.
Wild yeast (what most cider was historically fermented with) should be avoided because it can’t be trusted.
Neither one of these is true. So why are they repeatedly said?
I ask because my experiments in cidermaking have produced hundreds of gallons of wild yeast-fermented cider with no problems and recognizable consistency and my adventures in cider research show they drank the water back then.
Some people are hot for drinking cider on ice. We tend to think of that as a relatively recent preference created by British and Irish cider marketing campaigns.
Centuries before those campaigns, there was at least one early American who enjoyed his cider on ice. In 1787 Manasseh Cutler, a minister, Revolutionary War veteran, and (at that moment) lobbyist, was at dinner with colleagues in New York City when he tasted something new and novel. He said he
…was never more deceived in any thing (sic) I ever drank than in a tumbler of bottled cider, occasioned by the ice which I put into it – for I had no conception what it was, and supposed it to be a species of liquor I had never before tasted. It was exceedingly fine.(1)
For Cutler, anyway, this was a new and novel experience. His quote is intriguing. It begs several questions about ice and cider. Was it a regionalism? Was it a show of wealth or simply of availability? Was it ever popular and, if it was, when did it become so?
Now I’m interesting in finding ice in my cider research. But maybe not in my cider glass.
1. Cutler, William Parker and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL. D., Volume I (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Company, 1888), 240.