Drink - Victoria Moore decides to give cider another chance

Cider was the drink of my youth. I have recently decided to try it again

Those of us who drank so much cider, aged 15, that we feel it rightly belongs only in the era evoked by Peter Kay stand-up routines will probably not have touched a drop since the 1980s.

I remember how groovesome it seemed back then. Not just when we were buying (under-age) pints in Bingley pubs and swilling down to Pizza Hut for an all-you-can-pile-into-a-bowl salad (building the dish sides upwards, pyramid-style, using cucumber slices to get more in), but also later, in Bradford nightclubs, when we lounged round the walls, not speaking to anyone and brandishing our bottles of K cider.

Looking back, I have absolutely no idea why it was cider we chose to drink. Possibly our parents weaned us on to it by buying us cider-flavoured ice lollies from the corner shop on hot days in summer. More likely, it had nothing much to do with taste. It was just the only thing - our default setting.

Inevitably, in the past decade or so, I have turned to it only when cooking. Cooking-quality cider comes only in six-packs or giant plastic bottles, so there is always a lot of finishing off to do. But I decided it was ridiculous to overlook it in this way, and so when I spotted a pump for Addlestone's Cloudy Cider in a Cotswolds pub the other day, I decided to order it.

Addlestone's has been around for years but, at the risk of sounding like an entry for Private Eye's Neophiliacs column, I think traditional is the new new. Designer ciders used to come in cloudy - well, frosted - glass bottles. Now the drink itself is cloudy, which I think is a measure of how invertedly snobbish chichi taste has become. Extraordinarily, we now care about flavour as well as looks.

The trend towards small producers and "locally sourced" ingredients (whatever that means; apples have to come from somewhere; does it really make any difference if we know the name of the county?) is reflected in the presentation of ciders, too. Now if you pluck an expensive cider from the shop shelves, it will have pictures of rosy apples on the label and, very likely, a biography of the apple tree that produced the fruit.

But here's the good part - designer ciders taste oh-so-much better than the confected versions I drank in my adolescence. The great joy of my half of Addlestone's was that it actually tasted of apples. Why don't most ciders do that? It was also pleasingly aromatic and fresh, with a good dry finish. I longed for a decent ploughman's - a hunk of bread and piece of Cheddar, nothing more - to eat with it.

Trying to like cider again was part of my New Year's resolution to revisit drinks I have ignored for too long. I doubt my experiments with peach schnapps and the like will prove so successful. We will see.

This article first appeared in the 05 January 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Find this man a job!