American craft cider has been enjoying something of a Renaissance these days -- a market once dominated by UK imports like Magners and Strongbow now has plenty of stateside competition. It was only a matter of time before someone dreamed up a bar devoted entirely to cider, and a few months ago it became a reality: S.F.'s first cider bar, Upcider, opened in Polk Gulch.
In theory, a cider bar is a fabulous idea. I love the stuff, despite its girl-drink associations, and too few bars have it or stock options beyond the super-dry British imports. Upcider offers dozens of ciders from around the country on the two-column menu, ranging in flavor and price range. I was initially disappointed to find they didn't have any ciders on tap yet, though they plan to soon, but the two bottles we tried were delightful.
I ordered the Cherry Bomb from Julian Hard Cider near San Diego, which was tart, not too sweet, and full of lush cherry flavors despite having an apple cider base. My friend thoroughly enjoyed a bottle of blackberry-pear cider from Fox Barrel in Colfax, which was made from 100% blackberries and pears with not an apple in sight.
The problem with a cider bar made itself apparent halfway through the first bottle. They were both great ciders, but fairly intense, and though not saccharine were sweeter than your average beer or wine. We didn't really want another one right then, and certainly couldn't have kept pounding them back all night. The menu also offered local beers, but the room was almost empty, and the short, fusion-ish menu didn't offer many appealing bar snacks (we passed on something called "buffalo fries"), so we departed in search of dinner, all cider-ed out for the time being.