By David Flaherty, New York City Correspondent

Cider-Week-NYC-2011 Starting this Sunday, and running for one week, countless gallons of hard apple cider will fill glasses throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley like never before. And after years of toiling away in relative obscurity, artisan producers from the Finger Lakes and throughout the Hudson Valley will expose there wares to a mostly naive public. 

It's about time. We in the Northeastern United States have some of the best climactic and geographic conditions in the world for producing cider apples (learn more about the making of hard apple cider). 

Two years ago, I was naive. Apple cider to me was either the plastic jugs of stuff my mom would buy when the weather got cold and heat on the stove with cinnamon sticks, or the dreaded rot-gut I had come across while an exchange student in England (going by unassuming names such as White Star or White Lightning). There was also an evil, foul drink that goes by the name of Snakebite (a mixture of lager and Strongbow) that had come out the wrong end of my digestive tract one too many times. These were the ciders I knew. But then I began to see the light…

Tasked with creating a cider list for our restaurant, I began calling our distributors and hesitantly setting up tastings. I began reading — and I became intrigued.

It was sort of akin to drinking Natural Light your whole life thinking you understood beer, only to then be passed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. What what?  But this tastes nothing like beer! I done began to get myself ed-u-micated. And once your eyes are opened, it is near impossible to shut them again. This is a serious world of beverages, created by artisans of the highest order, that way too many people know nothing about.

Lo and behold, I have become a hard apple cider geek. I have been fortunate to meet many producers from near and far; I have tasted their range of styles from dry to sweet, still to sparkling. And I have come to appreciate the drink that graced the tables of the early American colonists because of its level of complexity and myriad of flavor.

And now, I am proud to say that on October 16, NY Cider Week comes to the masses. And, I know, that like me, your eyes will be opened to a beverage that is oft misunderstood and, all too often, underappreciated.  It's time to get your apple on, people. It's time for cider to have its moment in the spotlight.

From October 16-23, the Glynwood Project has teamed up with these restaurants and bars to bring events, tastings, flights, food pairings and general geekery to the public. Be you a total novice or a refined lover of the hard stuff, its a chance to support the local producers (and their friends from afar) and reclaim the drink that our colonial brethren knew and loved so well.

Here's a few of my favorite New York producers to check out (click for more info):

And for a whole slew of information to satiate your apple curiosities, check out the Glynwood Project's website for more great, nerdy facts than you can shake a stick at: Cider Week Official Website