Photo by David Brendan Hall
At a time when many local businesses are contracting and even closing, Austin Eastciders has added a second home. The local favorites have been selling cider since 2012 and opened their physical space, The Collaboratory, in 2017. The Springdale Road tasting room is still open, but it was always planned as a first step to something bigger.
“Back in 2012, the original vision was to have an urban cidery, much like an urban winery,” said Dave Rule, vice president of marketing. “And then we grew so fast and ended up focusing on production, trying to satisfy demand. We then circled back and did The Collaboratory. … But we always knew that we wanted to have a restaurant and have a much deeper expression of the brand.”
The new location – which opened in late July in the former Uncle Billy’s space on Barton Springs Road – draws from The Collaboratory’s best successes to create a new experience. Pre-pandemic, Eastciders had been known to throw a good party, hosting live music and products from other local brands, and serving up meals that incorporated cider as an ingredient the way many recipes use wine. At Austin Eastciders Barton Springs, those recipes have become mainstays in a new cider-studded menu developed by chef Page Pressley, formerly of Emmer & Rye and currently behind virtual restaurant Foxtail Supper Club. Featuring cider-brined meats, pizzas and burgers, cider cocktails, and exclusive ciders on tap, Rule sees this restaurant as “a deeper expression of the brand” than was possible before.
Toting new recipes while also serving Cuvée Coffee, baked goods from ThoroughBread, and a roster of guest ciders, Eastciders is crystallizing what matters most to them. “We have to represent our brand well and our cider, but we also have to represent what a great culinary town we live in,” Rule said. Through these collaborations, as well as more live entertainment and parties when it becomes safer, the Eastciders team hopes to continue cultivating a strong community.
Most recently, that community focus has manifested in the planning of the new space, as they’ve gone beyond state regulations for social distancing. When the pandemic hit, they decided to delay their grand opening in order to protect the contractors they work with, scheduling renovations one after the other instead of all at once so no one had to work with crews they weren’t already exposed to. They’ve spaced out seating, installed foot pedals on the doors, and put up clear signage about maximum occupancy and mask requirements, among other safety measures. (In addition to creating the safest experience possible for dine-in customers, they’re also making plans to donate 10% of the restaurant’s profits to local community organizations.)
Rule hopes the new restaurant can bring something exciting and quintessentially Austin to the local dining scene while things are looking bleak. He points out that cider used to be even more popular than beer in the United States until 1920’s Prohibition took the beverage off the map by forcing farmers to get rid of their cider apple trees. Other countries like France, where Eastciders sources its apples, got much further along in developing a cider culture and using it in their cooking. Eastciders aims to revitalize American cider culinary tradition. “We’ll be able to create an immersive experience for people that want to learn about cider and cider making. A lot of people don’t know what cider is. They don’t know that it’s fermented apple juice. A lot of people actually think we make a beer. So it’s a great opportunity to educate and tell our story,”
60g garlic, minced
120 ml Eastciders Blood Orange Cider
60ml fresh orange juice
60ml fresh lime juice
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
8g toasted and ground cumin
8g freshly ground black pepper
6g dried mexican oregano
For the Pork and to Finish:
1 6-8lb pork shoulder roast
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbs fresh oregano leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
1. Combine first eight ingredients in a large bowl and whisk. Season to taste generously with salt.
2. Add half of marinade to pork and put in vacuum-sealed bag or large ziplock. Refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place pork and juices on top and fold up foil, crimping to seal loosely but making sure that there is room for air to circulate inside.
4. Place in oven and roast for 3 hours. Fold back foil, increase temperature to 325°F, and roastin, basting pork with pan juices occasionally, until pork shows almost no resistance when a metal skewer or knife is inserted into it and the surface is crackly and brown, 2 to 3 hours longer. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Pour accumulated pork juices into a bowl and discard all except 1 cup. Add reserved mojo to pork drippings, along with fresh chopped mint and oregano. Whisk together and season to taste with salt.
6. Serve by slicing or shredding, passing mint mojo and lime wedges on the side. Serve with rice, plantains, beans or tortillas on the side. Reserve any leftovers for Cuban sandwiches.
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