The sun does wonderful things to the people of London. A mere 8 degrees and everyone is in shorts and T-shirts, unfolding picnic blankets and digging out their Ray-Bans. The best bit? We all start drinking cider. Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. Whether you drink the flat stuff straight from the farm, or like it bubbly and on ice, it’s got that sunny feeling.

The focus now, however, is on looking after the fruits that give us the sweet nectar. Small suppliers around the country are using batches of donated fruit from their neighbours, or apples that normally get tossed to the side, and giving them a new lease of life. And it’s not just the cider makers. A new surge of producers are mixing up apple juices and apple liquors from tiny orchards to sell bottles that are made with a lot of care and attention. It’s true that every time you buy from a small business they do a little happy dance, so take a look at our list below to get those feet jumping.

1. Wildpress juice

May Queen, William Crump, Carlisle Codlin and Orleans Reinette  might sound like the names of singers in a jazz band, but they are in fact a few of the 38 varieties of apple found in Wildpress juice.

‘Naturally inconsistent juices for different times’ is the tagline for the fun, honest Wildpress apple juice company that was launched this year by co-founders Nadeem Lalani Nanjuwany and Adam Grout. They also happen to be founders of the brand consultancy Creative Family – so the messaging and packaging is on point.

Their mission is to protect Britain’s biodiversity one bottle at a time by using lesser-known heritage apple varieties and working with local sustainable orchards. They recommend serving a chilled bottle of Wildpress in a wine glass for a sophisticated, alcohol-free refreshment that makes you feel, well, a little bit closer to nature.

Price: From £4.50 for one bottle

May Queen, William Crump, Carlisle Codlin and Orleans Reinette  might sound like the names of singers in a jazz band, but they are in fact a few of the 38 varieties of apple found in Wildpress juice.

2. The Newt Cyder

The Brits’ love affair with cider starts a long way back. Cider makers back in the 17th century discovered how to make sparkling cider using a secondary fermentation process in reinforced glass bottles sealed with corks long before champagne was invented. In fact, cider was the go-to libation for most people as it was safer to drink than water.

Hadspen House, the main building that is home to the glorious Newt in Somerset, celebrates this rich history with their own ciders. They are made with hand-picked apples, using a state-of-the-art press and cellar, and advanced cold-press processes. We’re not sure of all the scientific intricacies – all you need to know is that it tastes delicious. Book a cider tour and tasting for when we’re allowed out and, int he meantime, sample one of their bottles from their online shop.

Price: From £18 for 6 bottles

3. The Orchard Project ciders and juices

If all this talk of small orchards, connecting with nature and saving unwanted apples was making you feel a little emotional, wait until you hear about The Orchard Project.

The Orchard Project is a national charity dedicated solely to the creation, restoration and celebration of community orchards. They work with volunteers in towns and cities to build new orchards, as well as restore old, neglected heritage ones. All profits go to their community work and they make some delicious juice too.

Since the launch in 2016, they’ve rescued over 38 tonnes of unwanted apples and pears, trained 1,300 volunteers in the art of craft cider making, and given back £13,700 worth of cider, tools and support to local communities.

Try their Local Fox Dry cider, which is made from hand-picked and donated apples using a cloth-and-rack press and natural fermentation method.

Price: From £2.95 for one bottle
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Hawkes cider is ready to disrupt the cider trade and all its big brands and soulless pints.

4. Hawkes ciders

Do you know what a street hawker is? It’s one of the rather mouthy street peddlers you see in Dickensian films and novels, bantering with customers and offering a more interesting side-hustle to bricks-and-mortar stores. This is what Hawkes cider named themselves after, ready to disrupt the cider trade and all its big brands and soulless pints.

Dubbing themselves the ‘saviours of cider’, Hawkes has created an impressive collection of alcoholic apple drinks. There are so many to choose from it’s hard to decide which one to order, but follow the clever puns and try a Dead & Berried fruit cider or stick with the original Urban Orchard medium dry cider using hand-picked city apples.

In normal climates, Hawkes runs experiences like cider tasting and cider making, so keep your eyes peeled for when those start up again. In the meantime, pop the cap on one of their finest bottles.

Price: From £5.00 for 4 cans 

5. Churchwarden’s liqueur

Over in Hampshire, Kimpton Apple Press are asking for apples from their neighbours. They can press, bottle and pasteurise donated fruit into juice with a personalised label, or wait 2 years, and bottle them up into a fine Churchwarden’s apple liqueur.

For the liqueur, they press apples from anyone who would like to be included, then distil and age the juice in oak barrels until the recipe is just right. If you add your own crate of sweet apples, you are entitled to 3 bottles of the stuff at a reduced price.

What’s in this delicious Churchwarden’s recipe? Well, it’s a family secret, but we can tell you from experience that it makes a delightfully warming nightcap. The producers also recommend adding a plash to Prosecco and ice for a cooling tipple when the weather is nice.

Price: £26.00

6. Umbrella London cider

Yes, that is a very pink can. Umbrella London is here to brighten up your day with their collection of rhubarb and apple craft ciders designed in seriously punchy colours  (there’s even a gooseberry flavour to follow later in the year).

Umbrella London is the brainchild of bartenders-turned-bar owners, who have taken inspiration from British hedgerow and seasonal fruits to create crisp and flavoursome drinks. Made in the heart of London using Dabinett and Cox apples from British farmers, their sparkling apple ciders are available on draught and in cans for a zingy and refreshing tipple.

Price: From £20 for 8 cans

7. Silly Moo cider

The Silly Moo orchard has more than 19 varieties of traditional cider apple trees – bittersweet, sharp and bittersharp. They are blended with apples sourced from other independent English orchards once a year. As it’s all so natural and small, each vintage tastes a little different, depending on the soil, the year’s weather and which apples they receive. If you’re wondering, their name comes from the cows who just go crazy over the apples.

These bottles are available from the new online platform Local & Independent – a one-stop-shop that empowers small UK-based ethical producers and retailers selling sustainable produce. You know the drill: shop small, shop local.

Price: From £30

You know the drill: shop small, shop local. 

8. Galipette cider

We’re heading a little further afield for Galipette cider which is made in France. Free from concentrate, added sugars, sweeteners or preservatives, Galipette is locally produced in Northwest France using hand-picked apples and crafted according to centuries-old traditions.

Galipette is part of Les Celliers Associés, the oldest cider apple cooperative in France, that brings together nearly 400 apple producers in Brittany and Normandy. Now that’s what we call a group of people serious about apples. From full-bodied ciders to sweeter, floral non-alcoholic options, Galipette has got you covered.

Price: Galipette Brut is available to purchase at Waitrose (£2/330ml) and Sainsbury’s (£2.20/500ml)

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