Last week I had the opportunity to interview Mark McTavish, the CEO and Founder of 101 Cider House in Los Angeles. He and his team invited me to taste test a few of his popular 101 Ciders.
Knowing that I write for the Beverly Press, McTavish shared that he lives in our readership area, in Larchmont, near Hancock Park. We had a great chat and I learned a lot about the man who created one of the healthiest alcoholic beverages in LA and the world.
JW: How did you get started?
MM: I’m originally from Toronto, Canada and got into health and fitness as a body builder at the age of 14. My passion for fitness inspired me to open gyms and fitness clubs in Canada. In 2003, while studying and getting my business degree, I ran a craft beer bar. Realizing I didn’t want to work for anyone, and having a knack for beverages and a flair in bartending, I traveled to Asia and built a bar, that is still there today.
JW: How did you develop your 101 Cider?
MM: I thought about developing the first healthiest alcoholic beverage with no sugar. While researching, I discovered that in Asturias, Spain it is known for its excellent hard ciders. I flew there and met cider makers who make cider at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world. When I came back to the states, I went on the ABC website and found a winemaker named Norm Stafford who held a license to make wine in Westlake Village. I went out to meet him and he turned out to be so friendly. I started making cider at his Aldabella Winery and Tasting Room where helped me get started.
JW: How do you make your cider?
MM: All I do is get fresh pressed apple juice and let it ferment for three months. That’s how they do it in Spain. Apples are loaded with malic acid. Malolactic fermentation is a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grapes, converts to softer-tasting lactic acid. The same applies to apples. This fermentation creates a creamy, smooth and healthy beverage to drink. There are 6 billion or 6 times more probiotics in my ciders than in kombucha.
JW: When did you open 101 Cider House in DTLA?
MM: I discovered a space across from the restaurant Majordomo, and thought it would be a great spot to manufacture 101 Cider and build a tap room experience for cider lovers. We opened in December 2019, and had to close to the public when the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March. We are still manufacturing, and now ship cases to people #saferathome.
JW: What is your most popular sour cider?
MM: Cactus Rose. People like the magenta color cider. It’s a cider meets a lambrusco made with apples, cactus pear, basil, hibiscus and lemon. It has zero sugar, 6.9% ABV I and 125 calories a can. Another favorite is Gunpowder Guava made with apple juice, green tea and guava.
JW: How did your come up with the name 101 Cider?
MM: The concept represents a strong identity with the U.S. 101. The well traveled freeway is popular in songs, connecting So Cal and the West Coast. Our apple juice that we ferment travels from Seattle to DTLA. The 101 freeway is a corridor of where apples are freshly pressed, raw, unpasteurized, delivered and poured into our tanks to ferment for three months, developing great probiotics.
JW: So 101 Cider is healthy to drink?
MM: Alcohol is a byproduct of fermentation. Our cider has zero sugar, helps to reduce stress, and promotes wellbeing. Crack open a can and your mind and body are triggered to relax and enjoy the flavors.
JW: Tell me about your Sour Society?
MM: Sour cider fans can now enjoy 101 Ciders at home by joining the 101 Sour Society. You will receive a subscription box on the 15th of every month. A selection of 101 Cider House core blends, seasonal blends and specialty blends that have never been released to the public are in each box. Receive a 15% off your first membership box and a special birthday box from 101 Cider House during your birthday box as a member. Go to https://101cider.com/shop to learn more.