Meet Paige Flori, a Cider Expert and Pro Pommelier in Fishkill

Paige Flori, the owner of Boutique Wines, Spirits & Ciders in Fishkill, dishes on all things cider in the region.

We tapped Paige Flori, owner of Boutique Wines, Spirits & Ciders in Fishkill, for the scoop on cider. She owns the only liquor store in New York with hard cider on tap. Earlier this year, she was named the American Cider Association East Coast Pommelier of the Year.

How did you fall in love with cider?

Honestly, I just didn’t like beer. I was looking for a low-ABV sort of drink that you could socialize with when you’re hanging out with friends. I was having a hard time finding it—and that was a shock, that I really couldn’t find a good source for it. So I thought, “Maybe I should just open my own place and sell ciders because I can’t be the only person that likes it.” At the shop, we have four ciders that we generally keep on tap. The other nine are switched out based on the season. In the fall, we’ll have cider flavors like pumpkin, apple pie, and maple.

Why has it experienced a comeback?

I think a lot of people are looking for something different. They’re turning to cider because it was lost to history for so long and is now new to us again. Cider hits a couple of demographics that I think feel rather left out in the space, like people who are gluten free and want something a little bit lower alcohol. Most ciders are unfined and unfiltered—so they would fall into the vegan category, too. It’s the perfect storm—these trends are pushing cider and people are getting excited about it.

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Paige Flori
Paige Flori. Photo by John Halpern for Hudson Valley Magazine

Can we eat cider apples?

Most ciders are made with a blend of apples. But you can also make it with cider or heritage apples—if you ate them, they wouldn’t taste like a dessert apple. They’d be either super bitter or super tart, or sometimes both. Almost like a crab apple. But hey—they make delicious ciders. Equate it to a wine: you don’t go into a shop and say, “I’d like to eat some Chardonnay grapes.” There are a few apples in the middle, like Northern Spy, that make ridiculously delicious ciders that also are great eating apples.

Any Hudson Valley cider recs?

If you are looking for the OG of cider in the region, it’s hands down Elizabeth Ryan with Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider. She’s been making cider since the ‘80s. She crafts flavorful blends, but she also does some cool single varietal ciders, too. Some other neat ones in the area include: Treasury Cider, Kings Highway, Metal House Cider in Esopus (they don’t have a taproom; they only sell bottles for everyday drinking), Bad Seed Cider, and Brooklyn Cider House.

You Can Make Cider at Home. It’s Simple

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Get some culture or yeast.

apple juice
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Buy local (or even store-bought) apple juice.

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Introduce ingredients like cinnamon, honey, or cloves.

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brown sugar
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You can add brown sugar if you like it sweeter!

glass jar
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Pour into a sanitized glass jug with an air lock and let ferment for a few weeks in a cool place.

Related: Try Top Vino at These Boutique Wine Shops in the Hudson Valley

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