Two friends, Spencer Reilly and Jordan Sinclair, are behind the project. Cider will flow from 20-ish taps; plans call for more than 100 varieties of cider and at least 70 meads, a wine made with honey. Reilly also promises beer (including plenty of sours), apple wine and brandy, and traditional wine and spirits. The inspiration dates back to Reilly’s travels to England and Spain starting in 2000, back when he became enthralled with good ciders, only to return home and realize that hard cider in the U.S. generally came with a woodchuck on the label.
The bar will have a full kitchen, serving affordable, pub-leaning fare. Beer and cider tap lines will be kept separate, since cider is naturally gluten-free. Reilly, who keeps to a gluten-free diet, says the menu of meats, cheeses, small plates, and pubby entrees won’t scream gluten-free; he hopes patrons won’t even notice, until someone tries to order a basket of bread. “It really comes from me going out on Capitol Hill," he says. "Trying to eat gluten-free is pretty difficult.”
The Fetherston space is more than 4,000 square feet, giving the guys ample space to install a game room as well.
Capitol Cider’s timing is awfully good, as craft cider continues to take a hold both in apple-heavy Washington and in the nation as a whole. According to Reilly, who volunteers with the Northwest Cider Association, Oregon and Washington had all of three cideries total in 2000; today Washington alone has about 15. “The variety and selection of ciders have gone through the roof, but it’s still really hard to get it,” he says.
He hopes that situation changes in early 2013, when he expects the Capitol Cider buildout to be complete. "Some people think ciders are more like beer, others thin it’s like wine. I just want people to enjoy it."