To be completely honest, I didn’t understand the point of cider until two weeks ago. I can appreciate the benefits, a fermented beverage for people that may be intolerant of the gluten in beer. But, I never crave a cider. Frankly, I didn’t even know how many fermented apples one would have to consume to catch a buzz. And I certainly never imagined drinking cider out of stemmed glassware.
I stand corrected after visiting ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar, a new outpost that straddles the Shaw and Bloomingdale neighborhoods, two of my favorite spots in D.C. With an emphasis on education, ANXO is essentially an upscale wine bar, but for cider.
The Movers and Shakers
The chef behind ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar, Alex Vallcorba, hails from Barcelona, with experience cooking at Michelin star restaurants in Basque country–which explains why the dishes were eerily reminiscent of my trip to Sevilla and Madrid. With a combined resume that includes experience at Churchkey, 2 Amys, and Obelisk, the sibling duo—Rachel and Sam Fitz—has led their team to create D.C.’s first cider bar.
We happened upon ANXO in workout clothes on a Tuesday night and were happily greeted by the bartenders without the blink of an eye. We grabbed two open seats at the long, narrow bar on the first floor of the two level converted townhouse, and took in the rustic-chic decor, black and white tile floor (we love a good floor) and back splash.
To the right of the entrance sits a massive barrel used to ferment and produce hard cider right on site. Surprised to see what essentially looked like a wine barrel, the bartender explained that the process for fermenting cider was very similar to that for wine.
Is this Seat Taken?
I was surprised how packed ANXO was for a Tuesday night. We slipped into two vacant seats at the bar, noting that we were amidst first dates, groups of co-workers, and gal pal happy hour dates. Needless to say, this place has a come one, come all, neighborhood vibe. In case we didn’t feel like sitting in our post-workout gear, we learned you also have the option to take home a case or a growler of cider to go.
The bartenders were friendly and patient. It was clear they were used to fielding a ton of questions and happily offered free samples and suggestions to us, before ordering.
As ANXO first-timers, it was recommended that we try the flight of the day: a selection of four 20-ounce glasses of cider, which rotates daily. Our flight included the Potter’s Farmhouse Dry, ANXO/Eden Collaboration #4, Pilton Somerset Keeved Cider, and Graft Cider Farm Flor.
The Potter’s Farmhouse Dry was my favorite, it was light, smelled like honeysuckle, but was complex in flavor. My least favorite of the flight was the Graft Cider Farm Flor, as it tasted and smelled bitter, like a sour apple.
Sadly, we just missed happy hour where you can grab half priced Pintxos (small snacks) and select cider, beer, wine, cocktails, and vermouth Monday through Friday from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at the first floor bar. This didn’t stop us from snacking on some seriously authentic Spanish bites.
We started with the salty and delicious roasted Marcona almonds, the cod fritters, and the Chistorra montadito, with Chistorra sausage, green pepper, aged Manchego on a slice of baguette. It was a bit awkward to split the montadito, so we’d recommend ordering one per person. The cod fritters were also salty, but crispy and delicious. They didn’t have an overpowering fishy taste to them.
The jamon and Manchego toast ended up being a full on sandwich, which we ended up splitting. The side salad was also simple and delicious, with just the right amount of vinaigrette and pickled onion.
If you’re looking for a new neighborhood spot, or just a new adventure for your palate, ANXO Cidery is a great place to explore the world of craft cider and indulge in authentic Spanish cuisine. Check out our brunch review as well.
Anxo Cidery & Pintxos Bar
300 Florida Ave. N.W.