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Nearly half a year after the Washington Post‘s Greg Kitsock predicted that hard cider was making a comeback, drinkers in D.C. are finally seeing that trend bear fruit (ahem). However, the grown-up juice isn’t coming from Virginia as Kitsock reported, but from the UK, and it’s landing at Churchkey. The bar currently has three of them on tap, including a dry, champagne-like one from Westons and the stronger but dry Hogans, more akin to a sauvignon blanc (who am I kidding) white wine.

But the all-star of the current roster is the juicy, tart, and Parliament-level funky Gwatkin Yarlington Mill Cider, whose very name sounds like a snaggletoothed beast of a beverage. I had one on cask yesterday at Churchkey, and as soon as the lukewarm glass was set under my nose, the airspace around it filled with aromas of pungent blue cheese and browned, rotting apples. It made me hungry. Each sip of the cider began sweet and puckery before fading into a burning dryness — a friend compared it to the sensation of drinking (nonalcoholic) cider that’s turned in your fridge. The carbonation itself is an experience — the weird rotting burn feels dry on the tongue, but because it’s on cask (not pumped with CO2) I swore I could count the bubbles in each sip. But what it reminded me of most was a cocktail.

“It tastes like aviation?” asked Bruce of Y&H’s Lagerheads, who, to be fair, was used to putting up with my pretentious descriptions.

But what I said was “an aviation,” referring to the gin cocktail made with lemon juice and maraschino liqueur. The Yarlington Mill had the dry spiciness of gin, lemony pucker, and the hard-to-place funk of maraschino liqueur, an almond-y, sweet spirit made from the pits of marasca cherries. All that flavor, all from just apples, sugar, and yeast. See how that stacks up against your Strongbow or Woodchuck alco-pops.

Photo by ipresents via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution License.