14 August 2009

The Friday Belt: Madras & Farnum Hill Cider

Update: The missing Washington & Lee Yearbook from 1965 was found

Farnum Hill Extra Dry Cider - Madras Belt Free With Purchase

Aetna Casualty & Surety - Far Right -The Trad (awake) in a Brooksgate 3 piece

Madras Adjustable Belt in Esquire (September 1960)

Just kidding about that free belt. Besides, you're never gonna find this cider. Neeever gonna find it. And that's a shame because it's mind blowing stuff. I was turned onto Farnum Hill just last week at the Basque restaurant, Txikito. My server suggested cider and I pooed - pooed it right away. "Too sweet. Save it for the little old ladies" "No." She said, "This stuff is bone dry. It's made in New Hampshire but it's very much like ciders the Basques drink." Bang. That sold me. I took a sip and man was she right. No sweetness at all. Tart. Soft little bubbles...an almost champagne like mouth feel. And the best part is...it's dirt cheap! Cue the balloons.

At the Farnum Hill web site I click on the, 'where to get it' link and was happy to see a ton of NYC retailers. I called them all. Some never heard of Farnum Hill. Most were out. Only one, Sherry Lehman, had the Summer Cider. But I had to have the Extra Dry. So I called the two distributors. A disconnected number and a, "leave a message" recording later...nothing. What's with distributors? How hard is it to do this job? I mean, I have to read Director's & Officer's policies. All these people have to do is get the product out there. They don't even have to sell it.

My call was never returned. But a retailer who was out it mentioned a distributor who might have it. Not on the web site but what the heck. I gave them a call. "All out. Except for a case of Extra Dry I have here in the office. Do you want that?" "Uh, how much?" I ask. Licking my lips. "$96.00" He says. "I can deliver it if you want? No extra charge." This distributor, Bayfield Importing, gets my vote for sainthood.

The madras belt is from the Leather Man and I think it's as American as Cider despite the Indian thing. I mean, it's pretty much just Americans who wear Madras in Go-To-Hell trousers, belts and blazers. My London friends find madras vulgar but they can't find socks that stay up so what do they know.

As hard as it is to find Farnum Hill Cider - - you should have no problem finding this belt. And if you're close to Essex you may want to run by the Leather Man Factory Outlet. Back in (hike up my coveralls and spit) nineteen and eighty-six when I was attendin' the Aetna Casualty and Surety training center in Hartford (the most boring 4 weeks of my life) -- I spent a beautiful October weekend touring CT. Stayed at the Griswold Inn and The Inn at Mystic. Had dinner at the nearby Copper Beech Inn where Morley Saffer was at the bar smoking Marlboro's and drinking a martini. God, how I wish I was a journalist. And I visited the Leather Man Outlet where I found a Griswold Inn surcingle belt for $1.95 - - A great deal had I not paid $20 for the same belt at the Gris bar in one of my many, "Is this the greatest place or what?" fits of passion.

The madras belt seems to come and go with retailers but it's getting very difficult to find them without the D ring / ribbon style that I find so below the salt. Back in the mid 1960's there was the adjustable madras belt. Popular in places like Washington and Lee and seen in Esquire Magazine adverts. I'm looking for one. Perhaps the folks at Farnum Hill can get Leather Man to make one with their logo in madras so that I might have another one of my fits of passion.


Anonymous said...

That photo! The thing that stands out to me about it is, all of the two-sizes-too-big cotton the women were wearing at the time. No amount of starch could conceal the wrinkles. But their curves sure are concealed. Thank God for tailored styling and a reawakening of synthetics and blends. How is it even possible that they all can have the same hair style?

You look great as always. What were you, fifteen at the time..?


brandon sargent said...

a great post to start the day, i love your humor. thanks tintin.

Kim said...

I just had to laugh at the four most boring weeks of your life. J1 is currently in training in the Hartford area with CIGNA. She was there for 5 weeks, got 5 weeks work release and then has to go back for two more weeks. She cannot wait for her time in purgatory to end!

ADG said...

Tintin...I think you got a lot of money.

james at 10engines said...

great note; Farnum... on the radar. love a crisp cider. packs a wallop.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

You are a journalist.

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't get much better than Farnum Hill Cider. Spot on with the "Mind Blowing"... It is that indeed.

M.Lane said...

You are right about the adjusting madras belt. Next time I am at W&L for a reunion or something I'll look for one for you.


james and cray said...

There are other "Artisan" ciders made in the US. For instance, Wandering Aengus (http://www.wanderingaengus.com), makes a nice, totally bone Dry cider.

The reason you had a hard time finding Farnum Hill's cider is because there is a catch 22 here. Few people know about the great ciders out there because they are not readily available, they have to be sought. But few people seek them out because they don't know about these great ciders.

And the reason people don't know about these great ciders is because the cider producers make great ciders. These producers are not well funded enough to develop fancy marketing campaigns through which most people learn of new products and product categories.

These wonderful ciders have not been discovered yet. They, as a collective, are unknown to the general public.

Thus distributors and retailers don't care that much about their availability because they know people don't know about them. Distributors and retailers want to sell things that already sell, that are easy. They won't invest much time and effort into products that have an unknow market and little, if any, marketing dollars. There are exceptions to this, but they are rare.

The result, you have a difficult time finding authentically new to you products, like Farnum Hill Cider. Way to persist till you got a bottle.

tintin said...

DB-Something about the times and the women. I was a big fan of Laura Ashley during this period.

brandon-That makes one of you. Great to see you again.

MOR- Get her out of there! It's not too late to save her. Late one night, while studying the '86 ISO form, I opened my window and screamed, "I wanna sell used cars!" Aetna Sercutity (no sense of humor) came looking for me.

Dust Bowl- Not me, man. I'm just rich in friends.

james@ 10- It's amazing. They tell me that the Ginger Man and the Pony pour it on occasion.

LBT- Thank you. That's very kind. Where do I send the check?

old timey dave- I just wish I had known about it sooner.

M Lane- You know I now owe you two books? The '65 W&L yearbook and now Flusser? There's a great shot of a madras adjustable in the W&L that I have to scan first before sending on.

james and cray- Wonderful words. So much of that can be applied to just about anything today. I guess most marketing types think that people want whatever is easy. "So easy a caveman can do it." Banking for vikings. God forbid any retailer run out of Bud Lite.

EsseQuamVideri said...

"pooed - pooed it right away"

I just like that. Delightful post -- you are fun to read!

Giuseppe said...

Is that a bottle of Castello d'Ama Rosato in the background? That's some yummy stuff, but it disappeared for the year a few weeks ago in Boston. I'm jealous.

Tone Loki said...

Rules serve a very delectable champagne cyder as an alternative to the dry vine based fizz:


It's a delight!

tintin said...

EQV- Or should it be Poo'ed or Po-od or Phoo'ed. I don-kno. But thanks.

Giu- Good eye, sir. It is indeed. My favorite Rose this summer next to the Llopart Rose Cava.

Tony- Still have an ashtray I nicked from Rules in '96. At six pound fifty that looks like a no brainer but it may be next to impossible to find here. Still, it's on my list.

GSV JR said...

I swear I had the Farnum Hill cider in Vermont; it made the shrubs even greener.

Cider selection on south of the Mason-Dixon is nil. Strongbow, Bulmer's, blah blah. All shit.

I drank so much Scrumpy Jack in Amsterdam that I passed out in a park. Woke up with no shoes or wallet.

kaszeta said...

For those interested in Farnum Hill Cider, as a prize in this years Menu for Hope charity raffle Farnum Hill and my blog are sponsoring a weekend at Farnum Hill including a behind the scenes tours by the owners, including tastings: