In an effort to show some love for Massachusetts and discover how cideries are building flavor profiles and cocktails, we came across Valley View Farm. Thaddeus Goff, Valley View’s Bar Manager, was kind enough to give us an understanding of their business, how they mix and match flavors for their ciders, and how they create their delightful cocktail menu.
We are a working farm with over a century of agricultural and orcharding history, home to over 250 fruit trees, including vintage apple trees with heirloom varieties. We craft small batch, artisanal ciders that are hand-blended primarily in American oak barrels or stainless steel tanks.
I would say it really depends on if we’re using the cider as an effervescent topping or reducing into a syrup. If used as an effervescent topping I would say lemon works with almost every cider from my experience. I would always look at traditional style ciders with champagne style cocktails in mind — case and point would be a French 75 but with dry style cider instead of champagne/ prosecco. If making a cider into a syrup, the world opens up a bit as those flavors are more concentrated and more usable with heavier flavored spirits such as whisky.
At the Muse Cider Bar, we only host our own ciders in our tasting room but from past experience in the restaurant industry I would say balance and ability to be a food oriented product. It definitely would depend on the experience you’re trying to create and the brand identity of the business. Dry and funky style ciders would most likely take the place of champagne and other sparkling wines during a meal. Whereas more American style ciders that have more sweetness and balance might work better as a food oriented cider that can be enjoyed throughout your meal. Obviously everyone is different and has different taste and preferences but that’s how I would approach it.
So we currently make 4 different styles of cider:
1. Slingshot – Our flagship cider which is a blend of Baldwin, Mcintosh, and a few other varietals from the farm is fermented at cold temperature for an elongated period of time. We do sweeten our Ciders with a touch of maple syrup that we produce on the farm to acquire the perfect balance and then age our ciders in used oak casks. The Cider is Semi-dry (off-dry) and has hints of maple, bourbon, and balanced acidity.
2. Rosé – The Rosé is the Slingshot base but we add blueberries that we grow on the farm to add a little more fruit forwardness and in my opinion is a great food oriented cider because of that additional flavor. The Rosé is fruit forward, bright and crisp with notes of over ripe berries, slight earth, and a bright clean finish.
3. The Redfield – The Redfield is our single varietal cider sporting only traditional redfield apples. This cider is definitely more on the funky and tart cider and is also our driest cider. The Redfield is a classic heritage style cider that boasts bright acidity, slight hints of yeast and floral notes with soft tannin structure.
4. The Afterparty – The Afterparty is technically an ice cider, meaning that we do a similar process to our other ciders with a blend; but we take the tanks outside in the winter so the alcohol and sugar will separate from the water. When this happens the water freezes and we remove the frozen water to leave us with a more concentrated cider both in sugar and alcohol. This leaves the afterparty with aromas of stone fruit and overripe apples, balanced with slight acidity and hints of baking spices with a rich, elongated finish.
When I look at making cider cocktails I would first look at the style of cider that I’m working with. Is it new American style, is it old world heritage style, is it dry, is it funky, what’s similar in flavor that works in cocktails. I would say a great rule of thumb is; would the cider I’m using work in a champagne/ prosecco style cocktail. The more heritage style ciders are more on the dry and funky style with a low sugar profile, using them in that aspect is a great place to start. If I wanted to get crazy with it, I would consider making the cider into a syrup. Basically reducing overheat to concentrate the cider and adding sugar and water to help exploit hidden and subtle flavors to create something new! That would open up an entire world of flavor combinations as you wouldn’t need to count on the cider as being the effervescent back bone.
Valley View Farm is excited to have sommelier Thaddeus Goff as the in-house wine and beverage director. After years of creating, tasting, and perfecting his craft, Thaddeus is now recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers of America and awarded his certification in New York City.
Thaddeus’s bar experience began at his family’s restaurant where he began work as an oyster shucker and barback and later as lead bartender. It was there he grew to appreciate cocktails that highlighted each season, and the importance of fresh ingredients.