In SE Portland where the drinking and brewing of beer and wine is prevalent, owner Jeff Smith of Bushwhacker Cider just wanted to be different.
After years of home brewing and experimenting with hard cider, Smith finally broke the mold last year when he opened up the first and only cider-exclusive bar in Oregon. With seven different hard ciders on tap, and over 100 bottle selections of the world’s best ciders to choose from, Bushwhacker Cider is quickly establishing itself as the hot spot in Portland for cider connoisseurs.
Yet this Brooklyn neighborhood hangout is not intimidating in the slightest. Co-owner and wife Erin Smith says that she especially enjoys serving customers who are brand-new to cider.
“I can always find something that they’ll like… even beer drinkers,” she says. Indeed, making customers feel at home seems to be the Smiths’ forte. Regulars, some visiting up to three or four times a week, make up the predominant portion of their customer base. Without a television, a stage or a single beer on tap, guests of Bushwhacker Cider are encouraged to settle in, chat and expand their cider palettes.
Rather than compete with neighboring restaurants, Bushwhacker Cider focuses on cider, and cider alone. No food is made on site. In order to satisfy their customers’ needs for a bite, the Smiths offer other restaurants’ to-go menus in their bar.
Besides offering a huge selection of local, national and even international cider selections, Bushwhacker Cider also features a variety of house brews made from local Oregon apples.
Jeff Smith proudly touts that he and his wife are involved in every part of the brewing process “from branch to bottle.” Smith smiles as he recalls picking apples off of a tree that had branches overhanging a fence near a road that he just happened to be driving down (he was transporting guests, but they patiently waited for him in the car).
Not since before prohibition has cider been as popular as beer or wine in the U.S., but Bushwhacker Cider may be on the cutting edge of a new trend in the Pacific Northwest. After only eight months in business, Jeff and Erin Smith have witnessed firsthand the growing market for cider in Oregon.
On Saturday, June 11, from 11am to 7pm, the Cider Summit NW Festival is coming to Portland for the very first time. The festival will feature local brewers and ciders from all over the world. Bushwhacker Cider is one of its presenters.
Jeff Smith says of the event, “A big day for us, and cider.”