Are You Tasting the Pith? - 29th July 07
I'm not wild about cider, preferring the bitter rasp of the hop to the fruity lick of the apple. Actually, for one demented summer at the start of the 90s, I did drink Safeways Own Strong Dry Country Cider (6% abv), from a big plastic 2 litre bottle (decanted into a glass - I'm not a savage, you know). It was quite nice, served chilled - if only we'd had the foresight to serve it over ice! It's all so 21st century, isn't it?
Last year's feelgood drink of the summer was Magners Cider (4.5% abv), which I just don't get - too sweet, too cold, too, ummm, contrived. It's also spawned at least half a dozen new tastealikes, and has set the annoying precedent that all cider must now be served over ice. I was in a pub where someone was nearly served a bottle of beer over ice - the barman was politely asked not to, when a more honest reaction would have been to ask him what the fuck he thought he was doing.
Anyway, this isn't really a review of cider or perry, although for form's sake I should mention that Westons Perry (7.4% abv) is actually a very refreshing drop, just off-dry but crisp enough to stay interesting for a whole pint, albeit a slightly devastating pint by virtue of its elevated strength. No, this is just a note to comment on the slightly irritating trend for flavoured cider and perry. Westons Kiss (5% abv), Brothers Perry with Strawberry (4.5% abv) - come on guys, the arse has fallen out of the alcopop market. Why don't you have enough confidence in your product to serve it as nature intended? Before the RTD became dominant, we were forced to be inventive to get our drinks to taste right (or "achieve an acceptable flavour profile", as we say these days). Cider was mixed blackcurrant at the bar - cider and black. Cider, lager and blackcurrant - snakebite and black - was dangerous territory. A snakebite with a Pernod and black in it was, if I recall, a Purple Nasty, and was possibly the pinnacle of irresponsible drinking (and on-trade selling, for that matter).
OK, I'll stop the nostalgia - it's not what it used to be, anyway. Just leave it to the customer to put a fruit shot in their cider if they want it, and for god's sake, don't think that just because it's pink it will appeal to women. Alcoholic drinks are meant to be a grown-up, acquired taste - dumbing down is almost always a bad thing.
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