Clear sunny days like today make it easy to appreciate fall, a cruel and unpredictable season. Unfortunately days this lovely are few and far between and many of us end up, somewhat unfairly, associating the season with the end of summer blues, midterms, and other decidedly unpleasant things. But Bwog is here to make sure you appreciate the month of October in all its blazing autumnal glory. So today on Rest of the Best Of, we’re exploring one of the season’s delicacies: hot cider.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
It takes the Hungarian employees behind the counter a moment to register that they do indeed serve cider, and it takes them longer than usual to prepare your order. But Hungarian’s cider does exist, and it’s worth the extra wait.
The cider is served in a hefty ceramic mug which on a drizzly fall night is just the right size temperature and texture to wrap your hands around. The actual brew within the mug is too hot to imbibe only for a moment. As you gaze longingly into your steaming mug, take a moment to appreciate the cinnamony scent and rich ocher color of the cider. And whatever you do, don’t sip to soon. Singed taste buds is a surefire way to ruin the cider experience.
Initially, the cider is warm, spicy and delicious. But after the cider cools, its consistency is too thin to be satisfying. Although the warmth of the cider wanes quickly, the robust apple flavor lingers with an aftertaste of ginger, almost like homemade applesauce. The cooled cider goes down easily, almost too easily, and all too soon you’ll find that you’ve finished your mug. It’s only two dollars a mug, so load up on refills.
If Hungarian is too dim and dreary for your studying and snacking habits, you might prefer the safe, prefab appeal of Starbucks. It probably takes almost as long to place an order as it does to snag a seat, but if you’ve got some extra time between classes and are in the mood for an seasonal snack, Starbucks is the most consistent and convenient of the neighborhood’s cider options.
The drink, of course, is served in Starbucks’ classic white and green disposable cups, complete with words of wisdom from Steve Martin and Michael Phelps among other savants. Regardless philosophy emblazoned on these cups, they are not appropriate for cider — their ubiquity ruin the fun and festivity of ordering the drink.
As for the cider itself, the apple flavor is far too strong, suggesting the presence of artificial flavoring. Whip cream, buttery caramel sauce and cider syrup are all additional options, but Bwog does not recommend them, given the already rather rich consistency of Starbucks’ cider. At $3.50 for a grande (that’s Starbucks-speak for a medium) Bwog recommends the Apple Cinnamon Spice cider only in a pinch.
The Farmers Market on 114th and Broadway
The farmers market is the ideal place to get your cider fix. Your best bet is to head past all the produce and barrels of apples to the table closest to the corner of 114th and Broadway, upon which you’ll find an array of goodies ripe for fall noshing.
The cider is served very hot, so Bwog recommends biding your time with apple cider donut. The crunch of the cinnamon sugar and the crispy exterior of donut are the perfect complement to the thick and thirst-quenching cider.
Tomorrow is the first day of the season the farmers farket will be selling its hot apple cider. Make sure you specify you would like hot cider when you order, otherwise you might end up with the chilled version. This cider’s only drawback is that it’s only available fresh on Sundays and Thursdays. On the other five days of the week, head to the Hungarian — or Starbucks, if you must.
In conclusion: winner is the farmers market, silver to Hungarian and honorable mention to Starbucks.