Credit: Laura Hayes

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More Washingtonians will find themselves in front of cider now that Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar is open in Truxton Circle. The alcoholic drink, too often regarded as just “beer for the gluten-free crowd,” is often misunderstood. Anxo Beverage Director Tim Prendergast, who both curates the bar’s cider list and makes cider himself, demystifies the drink.

It’s not beer.

Cider is almost exactly like wine, except that it’s made with apples instead of grapes. “Part of the problem is the majority of cider consumed in this country is packaged and sold like beer,” Prendergast says. Think Angry Orchard or Woodchuck being sold in 12 oz. bottles, or cider poured on draft at a beer bar. “In the rest of the world, it’s consumed more like wine in 750 ml bottles.”

It shouldn’t taste like apples

Good cider very rarely tastes like apples. “A lot of the commercial, industrial, processed stuff that uses concentrate and lots of sugar tastes like apples or green apple Jolly Ranchers,” Prendergast says. Finer cider should taste of other fruit, and it should have earthy characteristics. “The hallmark of a good cider is that doesn’t taste like kids’ apple candy, just like good wine doesn’t taste like concord grapes.”

It shouldn’t be sweet

The vast majority of cider around the world is dry, and American producers are catching on, too.