On any given autumn Saturday in Clinton, the whir of an old-fashioned cider mill can be heard all the way down Elm Street. Tucked right behind Clinton High School, the crank of a fire engine red hydraulic press harmonizes with the tumble of fresh, local, New York State apples—Empire, Macoun, Ida Red, Macintosh, Red Delicious, Cortland and Northern Spy, to name a few. These apples are pressed into some of the most intricate batches of cider every fall, capturing all that encompasses Central New York, at the Clinton Cider Mill.
Guests who visit the mill on a Saturday have the distinct pleasure of witnessing the famous cider in the making, a mesmerizing scene of apples jumbled together and pressed into juice, which is then served hot, cold or in slushie form (the perfect refresher on those rare, too-hot days in the region). But on a crisp autumn day, there’s no better partnership than that between a hot cup of cider and a cinnamon sugar donut. The two items are rarely seen or served without one another, at soccer games, football tailgates, and are omnipresent around the Hamilton College campus—at meetings, study breaks, alumni weekend—all throughout the season.
But one need not have a particular yen for doughnuts or cider to fall in love with the Cider Mill. To escape the Saturday bustle, there’s nothing better than catching up over a cup of homemade chili, or sharing a chicken potpie with a pal on the Mill’s sunny porch on a quiet afternoon before closing time. The chili, just spicy enough, will warm you up right away despite cool temperatures.
And then you’re free to wander throughout the store without the weekend traffic. Homemade apple butter, pumpkin butter and applesauce sit alongside jars of hot jalepeño mustard and spicy dilly beans. There’s also pumpkin spice cake mix (best accompanied by cream cheese frosting), and apple crumble. Oh, and their pies. Where to begin with those pies… let’s just say it’s never too early to place an order for Thanksgiving day.
An afternoon at the Clinton Cider Mill is certainly worth your while. Start your visit by wandering downtown Clinton, and work up an appetite for those delicious treats with a brief walk to the Cider Mill. Don’t miss the ceramic pie dishes and mugs on display and for sale from Clinton Pottery. The pottery makes for an excellent gift along with the Cider Mill’s pantry items. (The pottery studio is actually located in the town of Clinton — a giant spun mug sits on the property’s mailbox by the road — you can’t miss it!).
Seasonally available from September until Thanksgiving weekend only, the Clinton Cider Mill’s opening each year is one of Central New York’s true markers that it is, undeniably, autumn. And how sweet it is.