While John and I were in Massachusetts in January we headed into Somerville, (along with my brother and cousins) to check out my cousin Antonia's art, which is on display at Bantam Cider's taproom. We spent the afternoon tasting cider and admiring Antonia's work as well as the gorgeous space that it hangs in.
Antonia, who was a double math and art major in college, has been working on a series based on fractals. She begins with "carefully calculated mathematical processes that evolve into something chaotic and unpredictable. The images portray a physical representation of abstract mathematical concepts, including chaos theory and the fractal sets." (Read more on her website here.) Her work is different than anything I have ever seen, and so striking. I am so not a math person, so to be able to bridge my world (arts, literature, creativeness, etc) with the math world totally blows my mind and fascinates me. Her paintings completely elevate the (already lovely) Bantam space, and also serve as a unique conversation point for people who are tasting.
Given our passion for all things locally owned and sourced, we loved checking out Bantam and everything we tasted was delicious. My favorites were the "Wild One," made with wild yeast which lends it a sour taste with tons of funk, and the ginger beer, which was super spicy without being too sweet. I followed up with Suzi, a former pastry-chef who is now a member of the Bantam team, to learn a little bit more about Bantam and cider in general.
Where did the name "Bantam" come from?
The name Bantam means "small and mighty" and ultimately this embodies a couple of things about our company. First, we think it speaks to our home market of Boston - a small city that has the heart of a place five times the size. Also, we're a woman-owned and managed business navigating a heavily male dominated industry with big money brands. We take pride in the fact that we're forging full steam ahead.
Where do your apples come from?
We source our apples from orchards across Massachusetts. Beginning around Harvard and Stow and extending into Western Mass in towns like Colerain and Hawley.
What are your favorite cider/food pairings?
Wunderkind: ideal with oysters or any type of shellfish, cheese: double creams or a hearty cheddar: Moses Sleeper from The Cellars at Jasper Hill VT
Rojo: duck, pork or other white meats, dark chocolate and berries, cheese: Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm is delicious
Smoked Saison: any sort of barbeque or dark red meats/steaks, cheese: Reserve Gouda from Uniekass Holland
What is your favorite variety/flavor of Bantam?
It is hard to choose among all of the ciders because they are all good at different times and settings but the one not to miss out on would be the recently launched Smoked Saison. The smoked-roasted apples blended with the Saison yeast has the perfect balance of smokiness and juicy apple character. It is limited edition and available in stores for the next month or so.
Ciders really seem to be having a moment right now--what should drinkers be tasting for in a good cider?
That's a tough question, because what it really gets down to is whether a person connects with a particular product or not. Some of our ciders are incredibly crisp and clean (Wunderkind) while others are deliberately not, and in fact are funky and sour (our Wild fermented varieties). Though for us, what we think speaks to a good cider is the balance and nuance of flavors. It's something that is difficult to describe, but you know it when you taste it.
Where are you distributed?
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut - and soon to be Rhode Island and New York. To locate a bottle shop, customers can access a list of retail locations on our website.
Do you host events in your space?
Yes. Outside of our standard taproom hours (Thurs/Friday 4-7pm, Saturday 1-7pm) we allow for private events. We've hosted corporate and civic events as well as birthday parties, anniversaries, engagement parties, etc.
Thank you so much Suzi for chatting with us! We had such a fun afternoon and can't wait to stop by next time we are in town to see what is on tap.
Bantam Cider Company, 40 Merriam St, Somerville, MA 02143, (617) 299 8600
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