Partners Mattie Beason and John Eisensmith celebrate the opening of Black Twig Cider House in Durham, North Carolina. Black Twig is a cider-focused restaurant featuring what they believe is the largest variety of cider in the Southeast and possibly the only restaurant in the U.S. to feature a txotx.
Named after an early 19thcentury southern cider apple, Black Twig offers over 80 ciders on draft and bottled, making it the first cider house of its kind in the Southeast.
As a nod to the traditional Basque cider houses and to create the communal feel inherent in a cider house, Black Twig features a traditional txotx – a Spanish cider barrel – where patrons gather around the cider barrel to sample the featured cider in two to four ounce pours. Black Twig’s txotx is a traditional nod to the unique aspect of cider culture camaraderie.
Beason discovered his passion for cider while traveling through Spain’s Basque region 10 years ago. “As soon as I experienced their incredible ciders, the rituals, and the communal aspect around the txotx, I knew I wanted to make it part of the Durham community.”
A cider expert, Beason was one of just eight cider instructors for the U.S. Association of Cider Makers at the first Cider Conference in Portland, Oregon, in February 2016. “Cider is the largest growing beverage segment in the country and I’m excited to be a part of that growth and contribute to its education,” explains Beason, who has dedicated the past decade to his own cider education. Cider, as Beason explained, is “the drink of our ancestors; it’s exciting to be on the forefront of bringing the cider tradition back into our mainstream culture.”
The bottled cider collection at Black Twig includes not only American craft ciders but also international ciders from France, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and Australia. Offering a changing list of ciders by the glass and draft enables Beason to constantly introduce patrons to the wide range of flavor profiles and styles innate in cider.
To promote small cider production throughout the country, Beason will feature a monthly tap-take-over, allowing patrons to meet and mingle with the cider producers and sample new varietals. In addition to cider, traditional cider cocktails such as Stone Fence (Conniption Gin, Foggy Ridge Cider and Bitters), Apple Car (Drouin Calvados, Contreau, Lemon), Snakebite (Torch pilsner, Noble Cider Hopped Peach Cider), and Kir Royale (Trabanco Poma Aurea, Chamboard) are available, as well as wine and beer.
Eisensmith oversees the kitchen at Black Twig, serving elevated bar fare and locally sourced Firsthand Foods’ sausages with Guglhupf buns and housemade condiments. The natural fattiness of the food is a perfect pairing with cider.
The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, and will host Txotx Fest, June 11th, Black Twig’s first annual cider festival. Eisensmith will offer a whole deboned, sausage-stuffed local pig from Firsthand Foods to pair with regional ciders.