Spring Brings Sipping Season in New Jersey

In spring, everything becomes new again, and it’s a time when we especially appreciate a good comeback story. Thirsty? Rediscover a beloved beverage that momentarily fell out of favor, but has been trending once again. New Jersey leads the way in rediscovering these lost traditions, meaning you can indulge in thoughtfully crafted and poured potions this season—and always.
 
Hard Cider: Ripe for the Picking Again
Believe it or not, hard apple cider boasts a long, long history in this country, as a popular choice from colonial days until Prohibition. Recently, hard cider is enjoying quite the overdue revolution—and the list of flavor options keeps growing.

The largest apple grower in New Jersey, Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick promises “fresh from the farm to the bottle” with fruit handpicked from land that’s been family-owned for ten generations. Then, it’s crafted into cider on a traditional rack and cloth cider press and fermented in small batches. Melick’s Hard Cider comes in several varieties, including ones that are classic, some that blend apples with ingredients like lemons and ginger, and even a hopped hard cider, cherry cider—and apple wine!

Inside the Ironbound Farm tasting room in Asbury (the town in Warren County, not to be confused with Asbury Park), sample limited-edition, homegrown Ironbound Hard Ciders, showcasing hyper-local, seasonal Garden State ingredients. At Würstbar JC in Jersey City, pair specialty sausages (venison, duck, lamb, veggie and more) with selections from their rotating, curated drink menus, including an extensive hard cider menu.
 
Mead: An Ancient Ambrosia Revived
 
A tasty wine made primarily from fermented honey, mead has existed for thousands of years and likely predates beer and grape wine. Mead can be created in a wide range of flavor profiles, from sweet to semi-sweet to (unsweet) dry and fused with fruits, juices and spices. It’s experiencing a lip-smacking comeback all across the country and regaining popularity worldwide—and now, in New Jersey too. Why not give this eternal nectar a try?
 
Melovino Meadery (Vauxhall), New Jersey’s first official meadery, handcrafts award-winning wine from the finest honey, fruits and reverse osmosis water. During the tour and tasting here, you’ll discover exactly what mead is and how it’s made, ask any questions you have and be treated to a four-mead sampling in the tasting room. Or head straight to the Melovino Mead Bar, boasting an excellent selection of meads on draft, bottle pours and flight samplers.
 
Tea: Turning Over a New Leaf (Again)
 
Today’s a hurry-up era where dining companions might spend more time checking their phones than chatting. No wonder, then, more people seek the calming, ageless ritual of tea and the civilized refuge of the places that brew it. New Jersey tea rooms and tea houses offer cozy settings and menus, and many host parties, holiday events and themed teas with music and entertainment.
 
So, slowww down and savor the lost art of conversation over a pot of specially brewed tea, accompanied by multiple courses of delectable morsels and sweets. But first-timers, don’t be fooled by those tiny-looking portions. They can really fill you up!
 
Teaberry’s Tea Room (Flemington) serves 115 loose leaf teas in a lovingly restored Victorian home. Drop in to High SocieTea House, a tea room situated in the first official post office of Wayne, circa 1895. Expect an elegant formal tea in the large dining room of The Cosy Cupboard (Convent Station) and a relaxing, gracious experience at One Steep at a Thyme (Jamesburg).
 
Take your tea by the sea? The Lillagaard, a historic inn steps from the Ocean Grove beach and boardwalk, enchants with an afternoon tea and teddy bear tea. Or, in quaint downtown Riverton, New Leaf Tea Room can be found just a short stroll away from the Delaware River.
 
Mulberry House Restaurant & Tea House (Westfield) and TeaScapes Bar (Atlantic Highlands) provide casual-yet-refined spots for a pleasant pot of tea.
 
Drink up more options for these favorites—not to mention breweries and distilleries, wineries and vineyards and coffee shops—at visitnj.org, where you can also download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news from New Jersey Travel and Tourism.