It's a funny coincidence that Orchard Hill owner Andrew Emig (a musician) met his future business partners, Carolyn and Karl duHoffmann (former actors), in a touring production of the play Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Although it wasn't founded until many years later, Orchard Hill's aim is to draw on the storied tradition of American cider brewing – an art eventually lost to exactly the Prohibition that spawned the speakeasy culture to which Millie pays homage – and revive it into something thoroughly modern.
The trio began making apple-y brandy back in 2005. They were instantly hooked, and began distilling at Tuthilltown. At this time they were sourcing their apples from Soons Orchard, a working farm since 1910 run by third-generation farmer Jeff Soons, located one hour north of NYC in New Hampton, New York.
Jeff harbored a secret dream of reviving the hard cider-making tradition. Maybe it ran in the family – his mother, Sandy Soons, had attempted to make hard cider years before, only to be rejected by the regulatory authorities of the time. Jeff's lucky break came when Andrew and the duHoffmanns approached him with the idea of opening Orchard Hill and producing hard cider made from apples grown at Soons Orchards.
From there, the trio began making bottle-conditioned, extra-dry hard cider in the French style that instantly won acclaim – Wine Enthusiast recently chose it as one of the top ciders to taste. It's delicate, with a champagne-like fizz that comes from yeast respiring within the bottle, as opposed to infusions of carbon dioxide.
We're all for a thoroughly modern cider that also pays homage to the best parts of the past!