Jack’s Hard Cider has long been a personal favorite of mine, not just to imbibe but also to visit as I adored their tasting room/restaurant Mela Kitchen. So when it was announced that Jack’s was changing its name to Atomic Dog Cider, panic set in. Was this going to be a major company overhaul? Will they still produce all those wonderful ciders I’d come to love over the years? Why did they also change the restaurant name from Mela to The Core Kitchen? What the heck’s going on? There was only one way to get the full story – road trip! And so with our faithful winery/cidery dog Domino by our side, my husband Mark and I set out for Gettysburg, PA. to check out The Core Kitchen at Atomic Dog Cidery. As soon as we pulled up to The Core Kitchen I was relieved to see that, at least on the outside, only the name on the signs had changed. Upon entering said establishment I could see that except for some decorative touches, the basic layout and more importantly the drink menu was the same. Hooray! In fact, Atomic Dog Cidery has even added a nice upgrade – table service! Double yay!
After settling in at a table with Domino on the covered, dog-friendly patio it was time to taste. Of course we started with all the classics – Jack’s Original (fruit-forward, semi-sweet heaven), Sweet Helen’s (a sweet cider lover’s dream come true) and the slightly acidic but much-loved Pear and yup, they all tasted exactly the same as I remembered. Now it was time to explore the more colorful cider offerings on the menu. Mark immediately fell for the Sweet Bourbon with its mix of buttery/smoky flavors and proclaimed it to his absolute favorite of all the bourbon hard ciders out there. Cherry Pumpkin Sage was a complex mix of tart and sweet with just a whisper of sage at the finish. The Rose was a scrumptious, semi-sweet strawberry delight while the Honeycrisp Cyser was my find of the day – think of a less sweet version of Helen’s with a hint of honey. For all the beer drinkers out there, be sure to check out the Sidre and Dry Hopped.
Tasting complete, it was time to eat and it was here that we experienced our first bump in the road – the new menu no longer has Mark’s favorite item, the meatball pizza. So we ordered the Italian pizza and yes, it was yummy and made from fresh ingredients but not quite on par with the meatball pizza. That said, we did enjoy the table service instead of having to go inside and wait in line every time we needed a drink refill. Plus Domino lapped up all the attention from not just our server but every server who passed by. So let me assure all those Jack’s Hard Cider devotees out there that they have nothing to fear – Atomic Dog Cidery is simply Jack’s 2.0.