On our first trip to the Scott’s Addition area of Richmond, Virginia, we found lots of breweries. Our day drinking curveball, and one of the most memorable experiences actually came thanks to Elle & Will Correll, who own Buskey Cider.
Buskey Cider is some of the best cider we’ve had on the east coast. We’ve had a few years of samples to decide that. Each cider is small batch, crisp, and downright inspired. During the pandemic, Will gave up his salary to cover his employees as the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown bars and breweries. It’s not directly to the rest of this story, but it’s worth saying.
As 2020 rolled around we lost touch with Buskey. Hell pretty much everyone. Then as the the temperatures threatened 100 degrees, Will reached out again with new Buskey Cider news. This time is wasn’t a traditional release, but something a little different – boozy soft serve.
Here in 2021 our alcoholic attention span is that of a chipmunk. Just look at the growth of hard seltzers, RTD cocktails, freeze pops, and whatever has yet to come. It’s not that we DON’T want to drink. We just want new ways to GET drunk. (Or safely imbibe for the lawyers out there.)
Will tells me that week by week, folks are coming back into the Buskey taproom, feeling free to do things they used to do, like it’s 2019 all over again. “I wanted something new, to engage people in a new way,” Will says. “I wanted to give folks some kind of reward. It’s been a tough year.” That’s where the Buskey Soft Serve was born.
Co-owners and husband and wife team Will and Elle invested in a Below Zero soft serve machine. The idea was making a “cider sorbet” of sorts, incorporating a few seasonal ciders in order to beat the heat. Basically, buy it and figure it out.
After the first weekend, you can safely say they figured it out. Buskey chose their seasonal Watermelon Basil for the inaugural cone. The first weekend, they sold them as fast the Below Zero machine would churn them out. Nearly 500 cones in all.
“We wanted to amplify the idea that this was ours,” Will says. “That’s why we chose the Watermelon Basil,” he adds. “It turned out better than expect, downright refreshing.”
The only downside is that the machine requires a good bit of cleaning and maintenance, plus staff training. It goes beyond cleaning glassware and faucets. Apparently there was a full-on training video to go along with the new equipment.
Each cone is about 5% alcohol by volume and non-dairy. After Watermelon Basil came Tart Cherry, and now bright pink Dragonfruit Açai. The working theory is to release new cider soft serve flavors opposite of the bi-weekly cider releases.
Will’s desire to energize people wanting to explore again is working. Buskey Cider has always been a fun break from the Scott’s Addition Beer Trail, and if the Correll’s have anything to do with it, it’s going to be one the most interesting stops along the way.
Just watch out for the brain freeze.