America’s first alcoholic drink

Traditional cider—the kind made from 100% fermented apple juice, as it has been for thousands of years in Europe—was America’s first alcoholic drink, and was one of the most popular drinks in the 19th century. But somewhere between Prohibition, urban migration, and the ease at which other drinks, like beer, can be mass-produced, cider earned a reputation as a backwoods drink, or worse, as an “easier” alternative to beer.

Cider continued to be the country’s most popular alcoholic drink through the 19th century until beer surpassed cider in production at the turn of the 20th century. After Prohibition began, many of the orchards were abandoned, and cider never recovered.

William Henry Harrison Campaign (9th U.S. President)

When Harrison ran for president in 1840, cider had so many happy associations that he made it part of his campaign. He passed the stuff out at rallies while supporters sang, to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”:

With Harrison our country’s won
No treachery can divide her
Thy will be done with Harrison
Log Cabin and Hard Cider!

He totally won.

Fortunately, the United States is in the midst of a cider renaissance and cideries have started opening almost as quickly as breweries in some parts of the country.


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