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Bars, breweries and even a bilingual magazine are helping hard cider find a new, appreciative audience across the country, writes Louise George Kittaka.

Although COVID-19 has posed quite a challenge, many are confident that the time is ripe for this apple-based alcoholic beverage to gain prominence — or, at least, equal billing with its better-known (in Japan) alcohol-free cousin.

In the Women of Taste column, Nobuko Takemura tells Joan Bailey how the new wave of interest in cider helped keep her Nagano winery afloat. With the local population — her customer base — dwindling, VinVie Winery found salvation in online sales of its cider.

Lee Reeve began the bilingual InCiderJapan magazine to help raise the country’s nascent cider profile.
Lee Reeve began the bilingual InCiderJapan magazine to help raise the country’s nascent cider profile.

This isn’t the first instance of the cider industry coming to the rescue of apple farmers in Japan. In 2017, Kyodo reported that many apple growers were moving into the business, often with government aid aimed at revitalizing regional economies.

Also in 2017, Kanpai Culture’s Melinda Joe met with Satoshi Takahashi, a former TV producer turned Aomori apple farmer. He explained how he wound up taking over his family orchard and how the increasing interest in the tipple turned him into a hard-cider connoisseur.

All right, enough talking — it’s time to drink. Meet your new favorite summer treat: Lee Reeve of InCiderJapan presents a simple and refreshing cider cocktail, perfect for the warmer months ahead.

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