When you’re at that stage of (gastronomic) maturity where you feel like juice is a little too juvenile while other alcoholic drinks are a little too complex, there’s cider—a drink of fruit juice, traditionally of apples, fermented with the help of certain kinds of yeast. It carries the crisp, refreshing feel and slight acidity of the fruit’s pure, liquified essence—but with a mild fizz and yeasty finish close to that of beer. And though relatively unheard of in these parts, one young company is introducing Filipinos to the art of cider-making (and drinking): Manzana Cider, the first locally-made, apple-based hard cider in the country.
*As we’ve noted in our previous cider article, there is a labelling difference between “apple cider”, which is non-alchoholic and only refers to unfiltered apple juice, and “hard cider”, which refers to the actual fermented stuff that does contain alchohol (under 7% ABV by law), in the US.—but outside the country all drinks labelled “cider” are bound to be boozy.
CEO Luis Sia fell in love with apple cider during a trip to San Fransisco. Having played witness to the drink’s popularity in the area—and knowing it to be a staple in the US, South Africa, and across Europe—he was surprised to find out it was virtually nowhere to be found on our shores. Fueled by a genuine fascination with the beverage, however, Sia felt inspired to create his own. “We are a cider-drinking people who decided to become cider-making people as well,” shares public relations officer Madi Calleja. Though initially challenged by the lack of locally-grown apples in the Philippines, the Manzana team decided to go with using apple juice sourced from Spain—and in developing the product, they enlisted the help of local beer brewery Joe’s Brew, who provides the facilities and equipment to produce cider on a wide scale.
At 6% ABV (around the same range as certain kinds of beer) and with a semi-dry, fruity character, you can guzzle down a bottle and feel just the right amount of feel-good buzz to get you going through any casual get-together, day or night, without it weighing you down the way other buzzed options can. “We want Manzana to be the drink for sunsets and conversations,” says Calleja. “Conventional alcohol always leans towards a very masculine or sexual ideal, when it should actually be a catalyst for meaningful conversation, debate, and contemplation.” Should you want to feel a bit more skip in your step, however, these ciders also make for great cocktails and other spin-off beverages—feel free to stir it into a sangria or mimosa for an extra-fruity refreshment that’ll get the party started; or warm it up with spices and rum or bourbon for a classic wassail to warm you up this holiday season. Like most other libations, these ciders are excellent paired with a few nibbles on the side—Calleja suggests having it with rich, fatty, creamy food (e.g., pork or cream-based pasta); with dishes of winter-y profiles (e.g., those heavy on ginger and cinnamon); or even with mild curries. Try using cider in sweet applications too—e.g. for poaching applies, to make pastry chef David Lebovitz’s Breton-inspired dessert.
Though the young company was launched just last October, Manzana Cider has big dreams of being able to mass-produce the beverage—and to soon get the Filipino market as familiar with it as they are with other alchoholic drinks. We, for one, couldn’t be happier to expand our vocabulary on the fascinating world of specialty drinks.
Manzana makes hard cider with all-natural apple juice sourced from Spain.