While college parties are still dominated by cheap beer, more and more students seem to be gravitating toward cider — especially for special occasions. If you haven’t explored the cider world fully, you may not know that the plain old apple taste you associate with the light drink isn’t all there is. Here’s a guide to the very best flavored ciders on the market, so at your next party you can expand your palette and your friend group at the same time.
1. Angry Orchard Rosé
While some find Angry Orchard ciders too sweet, they are a cider staple that, in my opinion, never fails to disappoint. The rosé flavored cider tastes almost like a dry wine while still being easy to drink, floral, and light. Break these out for celebratory nights — birthdays, reunions, spontaneous dance parties, and graduations. The fun, flirty drink is sure to put a smile on you and your girlfriends’ faces. Bonus points if you can get your guy friends to drink it (and admit they like it). Pick up a six-pack up for just $8.99 at Target.
2. Original Sin Elderberry Cider
Mix up your go-to drinks this weekend and explore Original Sin’s Elderberry Cider. This sweet cider really tastes like berries without the dull, artificial aftertaste that some flavored ciders unfortunately entail. It’s the perfect refreshing drink to start out your night, before you move on to harder drinks or cocktails. Improve your generic pre-game get together with this flavored cider as it will be sure to have everyone coming back for more. This pick is a little pricier at around $12.99 at most wine and liquor stores.
3. Jack Daniels’ Tennessee Cider
While Jack Daniels is known for their whiskey, they don’t disappoint with this entry into the cider market. The whiskey infused Tennessee Cider somehow satisfies both the middle-aged serious whiskey connoisseur and the college student who can only tolerate Fireball whiskey alike. The warm whiskey flavor combined with the sweet cider make for a drink that tastes like apple pie, but gets you where you want to be. This (literally) heartwarming blend works best for family parties, bringing everyone together for laughter and good times. Rather than coming in individual cider bottles, the Tennessee cider comes in a large bottle that you can purchase for about $18 and up.
4. Fox Barrel Pacific Pear Cider
Even flavored ciders are often overpowered by the dominant apple scent and taste. However, Fox Barrel’s Pacific Pear Cider actually packs a pear-flavored punch. With a fairly low alcohol content and a decently sweet taste, this is the perfect afternoon cider. Bring these out for casual garden parties and daytime celebrations for a sweet treat to complement sweet memories. The pear flavor is meant to pair (pun intended) well with seafood, so crabcakes or a plate of shrimp will make this cider an especially big hit. Grab a standard four-pack for $4.99 at your local liquor store.
5. Crispin Honey Crisp Cider
For friends who aren’t particularly into ciders, win them over with this mimosa-like Crispin Honey Crisp Cider. The honey flavors don’t make the cider too sweet, but instead, give it a perfectly balanced taste. Bring these out for a brunch party or daytime get-together for a guaranteed hit with a mix of guests. The Honey Crisp also pairs well with snack foods like cheese and grapes. This option is the most expensive on the list, with a single bottle going for around $6.99. Still, don’t let that discourage you from giving it a try at least once.