While Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill’s Lansing outpost opened at the end of December, there’s another development to celebrate. Last week, the St. Johns-based company began offering its boozy beverages at the new Phillips Cider Bar & Market in the Frandor Shopping Center. With 11 cider varieties on tap, there’s certainly something to sample that will be brand new to even the most seasoned imbiber.
According to its website, a cider from Phillips is different from those one might be used to.
“We let the apples shine through to provide their pure expression and a naturally gluten-free beverage. Most of our ciders are made in a natural, dry style. We explore combinations of apples with other fruits we also grow like peaches and plums, as well as the bounty of fruit grown in Michigan like cherries, blueberries and cranberries. We also explore other combinations with herbs and hops to create a variety of tastes to excite the palate.”
For examples of the company’s unique offerings, look no further than its Spiced Piercey cider, which contains Vietnamese cinnamon, cloves, allspice and mace, and its Pride cider, which is infused with hibiscus flower.
Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill is co-owned by Brian Phillips and his husband, Gregg Smyth. Phillips came into his share of ownership through his family, with his ancestor Parmer Phillips settling the farm in 1852. One of the ciders on tap, the 1852 Blend, is made from the apple varieties first planted on the family farm back when Michigan was still the frontier. The orchard, which is an attraction itself and offers a more understated option to the sometimes circus-like Uncle John’s Cider Mill, grows 34 varieties of apples.
Sharing this subtle sophistication, Phillips Cider Bar & Market has an elegant but cozy atmosphere, with a long, wooden bar softly illuminated by the amber glow of backlit cider bottles. Its setup welcomes itself to coffee dates and after-work drinks, with menu options including French press coffee; hot, spiced cider; and a variety of baked goods — I understand the Lemon Lavender Cookie is a particular favorite among customers. The savory options sound just as tempting, with choices like smoked whitefish dip with lemon and capers. Best of all, nearly every item is made in-house.
The bar also offers nonalcoholic cider (both regular and frozen) and a variety of locally made goods that would make perfect gifts. It has even more varieties of its hard cider available for purchase by the bottle as well as the option of purchasing a growler or howler of draft cider to go.
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