Jacksonville's Congaree and Penn gives its farm cider a proper welcome

Tickets to the worth-the-drive launch party, planned for next month, are up online.

click to enlarge An indigenous mayhaw tree, which Congaree and Penn uses to flavor one variety of its farm cider. - Kristen Penoyer
Kristen Penoyer
An indigenous mayhaw tree, which Congaree and Penn uses to flavor one variety of its farm cider.

Congaree and Penn, the 4-year-old Jacksonville farm best known for the rice it mills year-round, puts on several events throughout the year — including the typically sold-out Farmers Table dinner (you should totally try and nab a ticket at some point). But another one of its upcoming gatherings is also worth the drive for Tampa Bay locals.

Especially hard cider people.

Starting at 7:30 p.m. May 18, the Farm Cider Launch Party is set to give the first two varieties of Congaree and Penn’s new farm cider a proper welcome. This cider — an exciting addition to the farm, which has nonalcoholic shrub mixers for cocktails and sodas under its belt, alongside rice, pecan oil and jelly — is different from other Florida ciders out there, as it’s made from native muscadine grapes and gallberries.

The indigenous mayhaw tree’s tart fruit, according to co-owner Lindsay Meyer, is used to flavor one kind of Congaree and Penn cider, too.

“Congaree and Penn’s Farm Cider accentuates the sensational flavors of North Florida’s indigenous fruits,” reads the cider section of the farm website. “From the colloquial blackberry to the exotic mayhaw, we rely on the vigor of native fruits to produce a cider that is uniquely Southern.”

Bonus? The launch party has a barbecue menu from chef Ryan Randolph planned. Guests chow down on various meats, Congaree and Penn barbecue sauces, mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and “some green things” while Cloud 9 provides the evening’s soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll tunes.

As for attendees who aren’t big on cider but are tagging along with their cider-sipping compatriots, beer and wine are on hand.

Tickets cost $75 per person. Purchase ’em online in advance to get added to the guest list.

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