Cider WeekFridays usually mean a bevvy or five – but this week there was an excuse: The start of Cider Week 2013.

The 10-day festival features talks, tastings and classes at around 50 different pubs, bars and markets across the city – and tonight was the kickoff event: The night market at Union Square.

Ryan and I headed there after work and arrived to see that the crowds had already beaten us. Hundreds of people sipped cider and chatted in a central bar as a band played. We avoided the swarm and instead visited the stands around the square so that we could taste some ciders, most of which came from the Hudson Valley. We even spotted one, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider, that we had tried while up in Stone Ridge Orchard last month (and hadn’t particularly liked…).P1100620 P1100603 P1100602 P1100607 P1100612 P1100613 P1100624 P1100618

After checking out the pumpkin carving station, stands of gorgeous produce and chefs cooking up delicious apple desserts, we attempted to get a cider among the crowds. But unable to get anywhere near the bar and desperate for a pint, we instead decided to go to the next stop on our Cider Week tour.

Until October 27, scores of bars are showcasing the best local ciders on their menus. You can check out which bars are taking part here. There were a couple nearby to the market at Union Square, and we headed to Jimmy’s No. 43 on 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue.

I’ve long been searching for a bar with a great atmosphere near to where I live. And Jimmy’s might finally be the one.P1100644 P1100636 P1100641 P1100633

It’s a basement bar with low lighting and a huge selection of craft beers. We checked out the cider menu and I opted for Old Sin from the Slyboro Brewery in Greenville, New York. The cider, which is made from McIntosh apples, had a hint of honey and was deliciously light and sweet, unlike the harder ciders we’d tried at the market.P1100630 P1100631 P1100640

I love cider – I find it so refreshing and far easier to drink than beer, which fills me right up. So I’ll have to see if I can nip back to another event coming up this week. Any excuse, eh?

Cheers, Cider Week! And thanks for having us Jimmy’s – we’ll be back!