Many families celebrate Rosh Hashanah at home by eating apples dipped in honey. The apples' round shape symbolizes the passing of time — Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year after all. And the honey represents people's hopes for sweet times ahead. This year, double up on the apple and honey tradition by toasting the New Year with hard apple ciders and mead (honey wine).
Here are four good picks from two people who really know their cider and mead.
Meet Ben Sandler & Jennifer Lim
To get the libations flowing, we turned to the experts: Ben Sandler and Jennifer Lim, owners of The Queens Kickshaw in New York City. The Astoria-based cafe-bar hybrid offers more than two dozen carefully curated apple and pear-based ciders, as well as several honey wines on their menu. Next year, the pair plans to open New York City's first cider-focused bar, Wassail. Needless to say, when it comes to fermented beverages, these two know their stuff.
4 Great Cider & Mead Choices for Rosh Hashanah
Here are Sandler and Lim's picks for the best bottles for your holiday table. Cheers!
Best Overall Cider: Farnum Hill Semi Dry
Jen and Ben say of this cider from Lebanon, New Hampshire: "They use nothing but great ingredients, and are incredibly meticulous at every step of the process. It's the holy grail of complexity and balance that a lot of new American cider makers are trying to emulate. It also ages really well."
Best Flavored Cider: Aaron Burr Hemlock Cider
Jen and Ben say: "Hemlock and spruce tips gathered from their [Wurtsboro, New York] property in late spring function to dry-hop a small batch of malolactic cider which would otherwise dominate the other blends. Unfiltered maple syrup, also harvested from their property, is added to the bottles, which are then aged. The result is a subtle and cohesive integration of flavors."
Most Unusual/Exciting Cider: Millstone Cellars Farmgate
Jen and Ben say of this Maryland cider: "Millstone makes a variety of ciders but our favorite is the Farmgate. It is unique in the landscape of American ciders in that it is dry, tart, unfiltered, and barrel aged. Farmgate blends 20 different fermentations of 6 different apple varieties and multiple yeast strains. It is then oak-aged, and undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle with added honey. It sounds intensely complex, but the flavors are very well balanced, and there is integrity in their process."
Best Mead: Makana Iqhilika Birds Eye Chili Mead
Jen and Ben say: "This mead has got the right amount of heat, and isn't overly sweet like some meads can be. It pairs incredibly well with dry, aged cheeses like manchego and gouda." It's from Grahamstown, South Africa.