Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop Brings a Cider Renaissance to Rockridge

Co-owners Olivia Maki and Mike Reis create a cider extravaganza to a former shoe store, and their new bar has been hopping since day one.


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Husband-and-wife team Mike Reis and Olivia Maki have opened the Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop.

Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Cider has seen such an explosion in popularity that one of Oakland’s newest bars is devoted almost exclusively to serving nothing but the fermented golden nectar of ripe apples.

“Cider in America dates back to the Founding Fathers,” said Olivia Maki, who with her husband, Mike Reis, co-owns the appropriately named Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop — and is rhapsodic about the cider renaissance.

“After Prohibition it nearly disappeared, but in the last five or 10 years, new cider makers have been popping up all over,” Maki enthused.

“There’s now a huge demand for places where people can enjoy artisanal cider — a demand that’s not really being met by current drinking establishments. We’ve seen recent cider bars open in Portland, Seattle, Chicago.”

Deciding that “it was time for one in Oakland,” Maki and Reis unveiled Redfield in January in a College Avenue space formerly occupied by a shoe store. It’s been hopping from day one.

“It’s been so busy, even I was surprised,” Maki said. “We attract cider aficionados, of course, but also random people out for the evening who discover us by accident and immediately fall in love with cider.”

Maki and Reis don’t brew their own cider but instead wanted to create a welcoming place to enjoy what’s already available — and in particular offer the widest possible selection of ciders on tap, a treat rarely found in standard bars, with possibly no bars anywhere offering as many as Redfield does.

Long gone are the days when only the major mass-market breweries would make large pressurized kegs for serving beer or cider on draft. “Now, even the tiny companies are making casks for taps. It’s fantastic: Every single one of our 10 cider taps are from small, independent cider makers, ranging from Peckhams’ in New Zealand to Canadian ciders to right here in Sonoma County,” Maki explained.

“One of our draft selections is Wild Farmhouse Cider, by a family business in Herefordshire, England, called Oliver’s Cider. They have a huge cult following — people are coming in just because they heard that we have Oliver’s on tap, a real rarity,” she smiled.

“Since Oliver’s is an old family farm, they use many of the ancient, traditional bittersharp and bittersweet apple varietals that make British cider unique and which simply aren’t available in the U.S.”

Another draft selection at Redfield found almost nowhere else is Sidre Nouvelle Vague, direct from France’s Normandy region, which is considered ground zero for cider-making excellence — and crafted by Eric Bordelet, a former wine sommelier often credited with being one of the original instigators of the recent cider renaissance. He routinely wins international awards for fine ciders that rival the best French wines for delicacy.

“Eric Bordelet also works exclusively with classic bittersweet French cider apples from ancient trees on his family farm,” Maki said.

If the dizzying selection of draft ciders gives you choice overload, Maki also offers pulls of small 4-ounce pours, allowing you to sample several of them in your own customized cider flight.

But the array of taps is just the beginning of Redfield’s cider extravaganza.

“We also have several bottled ciders on the menu, which we serve by the glass — including some funky sour ones from Spain,” Maki noted. “And in our retail shop are 125 different ciders on the shelf, an incredible variety, any of which you can buy and then drink right here with a small corkage fee, which works out to about the same price as what’s on the menu.”

Maki herself is enchanted by ciders made from “lost orchard” apples, growing wild on abandoned trees, ancient varietals that are now forgotten.

“In our shop, we have Shacksbury from Vermont and Tilted Shed from Sonoma, both made from apples gleaned in lost orchards. Yeah!”

While Redfield is obviously cider-centric, the owners still give a nod to the classics — beer and wine — with six microbrews on tap as well and a small selection of cutting-edge Northern California wines for patrons who haven’t quite yet jumped on the cider bandwagon.

 

Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop, 5815 College Ave., Oakland, 510-250-9058, RedfieldCider.com.

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