An apple grows in Brooklyn — and it’s good enough to drink!
A Brooklyn couple who have been cider makers for years has teamed up with Green-Wood Cemetery to host an event, “Pouring Green-Wood,” during which locals will be able to taste the borough’s most exclusive hard cider made from apple trees growing in the historic burying ground.
Joy Doumis and Jeremy Hammond began harvesting fruit from the apple trees at Green-Wood in the fall of 2015 to produce homemade hard cider. And, they say, the results were tasty.
“We live across the street from Green-Wood,” Hammond said. “It’s a beautiful park. It’s got the ponds and the meditation spaces. Joy and I can walk in there for hours.”
Hammond and Doumis have been cider makers for over a decade, with Hammond having been trained in wine making in France. “I had a job at a vineyard in the Loire Valley and I took those tools from France and applied them to apples here in New York so I’ve been fermenting apples since 2004 in the style of Loire Valley wine, using oak barrels, stainless steel, glass,” he said. “One day we were walking around Green-Wood in the fall and noticed apple trees everywhere and we thought, ‘let’s see what these apples can do.’”
The pair has held several cider events around the city, but Doumis is excited to bring it to Green-Wood. “We’ve done other events, but usually the people drawn to those cider events like cider already. What’s great about this event is that it’s grounded in where the apples were grown, and it is a good place to marry the history of cider in America and the history of cider apples,” she said. “There is a Baldwin tree, which is an American heirloom apple first discovered in the U.S. in the 1700s. Apples just like people have long histories and stories. To be able to sit on the grass and meet neighbors and people drawn to this event and share cider with them from apples grown in the place that we’re sitting, I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
“What we are finding is that the apples from the cemetery makes a really beautiful cider,” added Hammond. “A lot of people think of the commercial brands, what we call the six pack brands that are on draft at bars in the city. They’re thought of as a sweet beverage that you drink in a pint glass. We are hoping to spread the word about what is called a proper cider, which is completely dry. It’s like a natural wine and we are hoping to show people what an apple does when you crush it, press it and ferment it in presence of oxygen. It really does make something different than what is on the commercial market. The commercial stuff isn’t 100 percent apples. They’re adding chemicals.”
Director of Horticulture and Curator at Green-Wood Joe Charap is also excited to bring the event to the space. “I met Joy and Jeremy in 2015,” he said. “They approached us and asked us about using our apples to make hard cider and it seemed like a great idea. They’re very knowledgeable about the craft and it was a fun way to get involved with our neighbors and use Green-Wood and the assets inherent in our landscape for an interesting collaboration. We’re really excited to work on a project like this.”
“It’s another opportunity to remind people that the cemetery is not just somewhere with a bunch of headstones,” Doumis added. “Consider how long the cemetery has been here in New York City. So that’s exciting too. You’re drinking history.”
Pouring Green-Wood will take place on Sunday, May 21 at 11 a.m. at Green-Wood Cemetery. Attendees will meet inside the chapel at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue. Tickets are $30, $25 for members of the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Green-Wood Historic Fund. For more information, visit www.green-wood.com/toursevents.