President John Adams, the story goes, knocked back a tankard of hard cider every morning of his adult life. While we don’t encourage hitting the sauce before noon (at least not without good reason; we’ll leave those up to you), this little anecdote points to something our founding fathers knew eons ago: cider, including its alcoholic forms, is good for you, thanks to an antioxidant-rich chemical makeup similar to that of red wine—but with fewer calories. Oh, and before Great-Aunt Tilda gets all judgy on you, whip out this bit of trivia: Adams lived to the ripe old age of 91.
John Vittori, cofounder of Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, Massachusetts, likes to mix it up with cider and different liqueurs. He recommends these all-grown-up, holiday-ready combos:
- Hot cider with a splash of Tuaca (an Italian, brandy-based liqueur with notes of vanilla and citrus) and garnished with a fresh orange slice
- The traditional Snakebite—1 part lager to 1 part hard cider (we’re partial to Hilltop’s Johnny Mash hard cider)
- The Golden Apple, John’s own cinnamony blend of ½ pint hard cider with 1 shot Goldschläger Schnapps
John Vittori, a former restaurateur, saw vast potential in 200 glorious acres of land, including a 100-year-old orchard, in Richmond, Massachusetts, and with his sister, Wendy Vittori, developed Hilltop Orchards and Furnace Brook Winery. With a focus on sustainability, the Vittoris grow more than 27 varieties of apples, including rare heirloom varieties. They now create over 100,000 gallons of fresh cider a year, as well as baked goods, preserves, and the award-winning Johnny Mash hard cider. The orchard and winery have been featured on TV shows and in print, including Travel and Leisure, Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Travel Channel, and Good Morning America.