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First Look: Bivouac Ciderworks

A new craft cidery opens in North Park, designed for the outdoors person in all of us


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Craft beer annexed San Diego over the last ten years. Hard to tell if we’re a city with breweries or a brewer with a city in it. In doing so, the entire idea of craftification took deep hold in our culture. “What milquetoast commercial product can we craft-up?” seems to be the question. Marketers call these people “disruptors” in industries. San Diego is disrupting. The trend I’ve most been waiting to arrive is craft ciders. I love a good cider—a gluten-free, carbonated, alcoholic beverage made from fermented fruit. But the commercial brands lay it on too sweet. They seem to think Americans have the palate of a malnutritioned 5 year old (their strong sales may prove that they’re not entirely wrong).

They taste like carbonated hangovers and a countdown to Advil. I prefer something dryer, crisper, less Capri Sunny.

And that’s what the craft cideries are doing, including the newest, Bivouac Ciderworks. A partnership between friends Lara Worm (an attorney whose family has been in the SD restaurant biz for decades) and brewer Matthew Austin, it’s a 2,500 square-foot ode to the great outdoors doing dry, old-world ciders. For instance, a Hawaiian pineapple and black sea salt cider, or the “West Coast Taper,” which is a hopped play on an IPA. “Sweetness blows out your taste buds,” says Worm. “Cider has a long history and tradition because it pairs really well with food. When done properly, it’s comparable to wine. We’re doing some things like barrel-aging in bourbon and tequila barrels. We want to take all the scientific approaches in the wine and beer industry and apply them to cider.”

They’ve tapped respected San Diego chef Danilo “DJ” Tangalin (ex-JRDN), who’s created a menu to pair with the ciders, including apps like smoked trout and avocado tartine, apple cider-glazed chicken wings, honey-poached carrots, cider-braised carnitas tacos, and entrees like an oyster po boy with pork belly and kimchee, a sweet-sour pan-roasted trout, steak frites, and a grass-fed burger.

They’ve also tapped Jesse Ross, bartender at Sycamore Den, to design them a cocktail menu based on brandies and eau de vies.

For the design, it’s the talented Tecture, who redesigned Level2 Bar at George’s at the Cove, plus Kettner Exchange. Both Worm and Austin are outdoor enthusiasts, so they wanted a place that embodied sports like climbing, hiking, sailing, you name it. One wall is a tapestry of various knots, a sailor’s or rock climber’s or camper’s dream. Massive granite rocks hang from the ceiling. There’s also a swing bench for the VIP table, and the entire restaurant, seen from the street, glows like a campfire at night.

Enough of the words. Take a look at the first photos of Bivouac Ciderworks.

3986 30th Street, North Park, 619-725-0844

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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