Named after the sound a chicken makes (or more accurately, the sound a human makes whilst chatting up a chicken), Bawker Bawker Cider House has been keeping it colorful since 2020 by serving up an incredible array of jewel-toned, house-made hard ciders.
The folks at Bawker Bawker, located along the Historic Fourth Avenue, have a lot to squawk about these days as they quickly approach their two-year anniversary of being Tucson’s first-and-only hard cider taproom.
To celebrate this truly significant milestone, owners Don Rubino and Jaimie Perkunas have put together a five-day anniversary celebration featuring two trivia nights, special cider releases, and collaborative cider pairings with a couple of local Tucson eateries. The festivities get underway on Wednesday, September 7 – Sunday, September 11, so there are plenty of opportunities to pop in and raise a glass to this locally owned cidery that’s become a Fourth Avenue fixture.
More in the style of the phoenix than a chicken, Bawker Bawker rose from the ashes of the business-demolishing pandemic of 2020, proving that they have the professional acumen and high-quality beverages to keep customers coming back. Perkunas says that “opening during a pandemic definitely expanded” their comfort zone, and she and Rubino feel grateful to have been incubated on a street so important to Tucson’s culture and history.
In their primo location, Bawker Bawker Cider House is surrounded by other quintessentially Tucson small businesses like Wooden Tooth Records, Antigone Books, Tiny Town, and Pop-Cycle. Plus, it’s just as much of a destination spot for out-of-towners and locals alike.
“We love welcoming tourists visiting Tucson for the first time and directing them to our favorite local attractions,” said Perkunas.
Bawker Bawker recently collaborated with the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition (a stewardship network of Fourth Avenue businesses, non-profits, and neighborhoods). They worked together to repaint their business’s front facade in blazing sunset hues, a vibrant and welcoming preamble to their technicolor cider offerings.
a cider for just about everyone
In addition to being delightful to the eyes, Bawker Bawker’s hard ciders are brewed with flavor diversity and premium quality in mind. They start with a base of not-from-concentrate apple juice from the Pacific Northwest, famous for its prolific apple orchards which thrive on the nutrient-rich volcanic soil found in that region. Each cider is blended with additional fruits, spices, and herbs added before fermentation, allowing unique flavors to be born not just from the adjunct ingredients themselves, but from the alchemy of fruit and yeast.
In classic cider making, the fermentation process is halted with the addition of sulfites to the brew, which results in a sweet cider with an unfortunate allergen in the mix (many people are sensitive to sulfites in food and wine). At Bawker Bawker, however, fermentation is pushed a little longer than generally practiced and not halted with sulfites, resulting in a dryer, cleaner finish to their ciders and little to no fruit sugar left in the final beverage.
Hard cider varieties like cucumber mint, apricot almond, passionfruit rose, and Azacca/Sterling hopped apple enliven the Bawker Bawker tap list. For the drinkers who want to soak up that classic apple flavor, they also have a more traditional French White Apple cider. The “French white” in the name refers to the white wine yeast used for this particular hard cider, which imparts an almost pear-like flavor from the fruity esters produced in fermentation.
Bawker Bawker utilizes 12 different types of yeast for their cider-making, each specifically selected to tease out a nuanced arrangement of flavors for a given recipe. They also strive to use local ingredients in their cider-making when possible, and specifically like to showcase those fruits that Arizona does best like local citrus and prickly pear fruit.
The Community Citrus cider (a favorite of mine) showcases locally grown lemons, oranges, and grapefruits in a delightfully delicate way, with surprising floral notes reminiscent of orange blossoms.
Never shying away from a bold cider concept, Bawker Bawker has even partnered up with Tucson’s High Desert Sauce Company to brew the very hot and tasty Reaper of the Soul cider. It’s made with peaches, orange peel, and Carolina Reaper chiles (not for the faint of heart).
To drive home their creative approach to cider making, they always keep a couple of hard cider slushies on tap (the apple flavor is a slushy standard, currently alongside a spectacular root beer cider slushy). The cheerful and vibrant cider celebration you can find on any given day at Bawker Bawker rivals a trip to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but with much less guilt.
“95% of our menu is gluten-free, and our ciders are low in sugar because it’s fermented away,” said Perkunas. And the snozzberries taste just like snozzberries.
So, whether you are an avid-cider fan or a more reluctant beer and wine lover, Bawker Bawker has delicious options to serve up for you.
Good times at the cider house
In addition to serving a massive range of the best locally made hard cider south of the Verde River, Bawker Bawker hosts unique events such as Team Trivia (every Wednesday), drag queen bingo, spelling bees, and tee shirt tie-dye parties. They also create space to support the community by hosting monthly Teacher Appreciation Fridays, in which local teachers can win prizes, get special pricing on drinks, and grab some free snacks.
To celebrate their second anniversary, the crew will be going all out with a multi-day affair that’s bound to be as spirited as their tap list. The festivities begin on Wednesday, September 7 with a special hard cider four-pack release. The remainder of the anniversary extravaganza will be highlighted by delicious cider/food pairings, trivia nights, a Saturday all-day happy hour, and more.
Take a look at the schedule so you can get to planning.
Five-Day Celebration Event Lineup
Wednesday, September 7 from 7 – 9 p.m.
Team Trivia night and the release of the special four-pack
This unique four-pack will showcase four 12-ounce new hard cider flavors, and can be purchased in person at the cider house or pre-ordered online in advance (ordering is live now). The variety 4 pack is the perfect way to take the colorful tap list of Bawker Bawker home with you, and introduces Strawberry Oregano, Mission Garden Peach, Blueberry Toasted Coconut, and Orange Cream (in a nitro can for added lushness) to their vast and vivid hard cider lineup.
Thursday, September 8 from 7 – 9 p.m.
Arizona Trail Trivia Night
Bawker Bawker has teamed up with the Arizona Trail Association for a night of trivia, hosted by Wendy Lotze, a cider house regular and Arizona Trail Volunteer Coordinator. A portion of the sales of their Arizona Trail Prickly Pear Lemon Cider goes directly to the Arizona Trail Association for their important trail stewardship programs.
Friday, September 9 from 6 – 8 p.m.
HUB Sorbet Flight Night
Get a flight of three special release ciders paired with three HUB Ice Cream’s sorbets — Mission Peach Cider with Stone Fruit Sorbet, Strawberry Oregano Cider with Lemon Sorbet, and Blueberry Toasted Coconut with Coconut Sorbet. It’s $25 at the door or purchase in advance online for 10% off.
Saturday, September 10 from noon – midnight
All-day Happy Hour
In addition to the Happy Hour specials, they’ll have the Cowpig food truck will be parked outside from 5 – 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 11 from 1 – 3 p.m.
Gluten-free Mini Cupcake & Cider Pairing
The cupcakes are coming straight from Gourmet Girls for this event. It’s going to be a gluten-free party for your tastebuds featuring three Bawker Bawker ciders: Prickly Pear Lemon, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Blueberry Cider Seltzer. Then they’ll be paired with three gluten-free mini cupcakes: a lemon cupcake with prickly pear frosting, a vanilla cupcake with strawberry rhubarb frosting, and a blueberry cupcake with blueberry frosting. This event is expected to sell out, so purchase your spot in advance online for 10% off the door price of $20.
The Bawker Bawker taproom is open five days a week, Wednesday thru Sunday. In addition to their house-brewed hard ciders, Bawker Bawker features guest ciders (think Wyder’s, Ace, and Schilling Cider Houses), local craft beers from breweries such as Catalina Brewing Company, Dillinger Brewing Company, and Dragoon Brewing Company, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. Cider is available on draft, in cans, and can be dispensed in your favorite growler to-go.
They’re even nice enough to take a $1 off your bar tab if you bring in your own outside food for dinner. Although, they do also carry a nice selection of small snacks for purchase. When you’re not near the taproom, you can find their hard ciders in tap houses across Tucson, and pouring alongside local craft beers at beer festivals statewide.
Bawker Bawker Cider House is located at 400 N. Fourth Ave. For more information, visit bawkerbawker.com.
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