A ripe time for cider

As the owner of the upcoming Cider House, Julio Peix says there’s no better time for the naturally gluten-free drink than now

Julio Peix stands in front of Cider House in Midtown. He says its soft opening will be toward the end of December.

Julio Peix stands in front of Cider House in Midtown. He says its soft opening will be toward the end of December.

Photo by lucas fitzgerald

Julio Peix was hoping to open the Cider House earlier this year—the sign hanging outside over the nicely enclosed patio reads “2018” in the middle of an artfully flowering apple tree. It’s getting awfully close to the end of that goal, but Peix swears the soft opening will be later this month, come hell or high water.

Peix said troubles with the landlord and contractors have delayed the opening for more than a year, much to his frustration.

It is a great location, just a few steps from the corner of 24th and K streets in Midtown, across the street from Der Biergarten and near a slew of other restaurants and bars including Tres Hermanas and The Golden Bear.

Peix said he’s a little worried about opening in the winter—traditionally not a great time for a new bar to start up—but he’s got a hook no one else in town has: A totally gluten-free menu and unique, local ciders on tap.

He plans on installing 20 taps with 14 ciders, one dedicated to kombucha and a few beers. There will also be a digital menu that will list what’s on tap at one end of the 26-foot-long wooden bar, two TVs and a couple of pinball machines in the corner.

While Peix hopes there will be plenty to entice winter customers, he is already preparing for summer. He shows off the custom railing that encloses the porch and talks about big plans to add planters, lights and an awning. It’ll also be dog-friendly, he said.

“Summer is great here because it’s nice and shady,” Peix added, pointing at trees that were losing leaves the size of hubcaps.

Cider House will focus mainly on locally brewed ciders, and rotating taps will include offerings from Two Rivers and Golden Gate, Common and Nitty’s, as well as Two Towns and Stir, among many others.

Alex McHardy, who will bartend at Cider House, said he thinks cider got its bad rap in the 1980s and ‘90s when it was mass-produced.

“There was just a lot of sugars and concentrates,” he said. “I think people will be impressed with how many infusions there can be.”

Peix hopes to introduce a happy hour and tastings, in addition to the fixed menu that will mostly offer gluten-free paninis. (The menu is an integral part of the business plan, as cider is often chosen as a gluten-free option over wheat and grain-based beers.)

Peix, who owns Dad’s Kitchen in Land Park and is opening a new location in East Sacramento, used to work for Anchor Brewing, where he learned about craft brewing. He said saw cider growing in popularity in San Francisco and elsewhere and believes the time is right for Sacramento to embrace cider culture, too.

Bradley Yarger, an account manager with Half Pint Ciders, a Los Angeles-based cider supplier, agrees.

“There’s a whole up-and-coming craft beer movement in Sacramento, it’s one of the best in the country,” he said. “The combination of good agriculture and good wine and a good beer scene here—it was only a matter of time for cider,” said Yarger, who happened to be in town and spoke to Peix about the ciders to offer on tap.

“This new wave has to do a lot with our generation liking what’s new and trying new things,” he added. “Twenty years ago, you were a Miller guy or a Bud guy,” and that’s what you drank.

Now, imbibers can try several new drinks in a single night. And if Peix and Yarger are right, a lot more Sacramentans will be trying cider.