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Cider House Rules!by Evan Wetmore | Houston magazine | February 27, 2012
Like any 18-year-old American visitor to Europe worth his backpack, Memorial High School graduate Jake Schiffer was eager to take advantage of the younger drinking age. In London, he bellied up to his first bar, and a ordered a hard cider. Cider? But isn’t that for chicks? “Guys love cider over there,” laughs Schiffer, now 22. “Coors Light is for the girls because they don’t want to drink the hard s***. Then I come back here, and cider is for girls, and Coors Light is for the manliest man.”
Gender issues aside, he was hooked. And when the stylishly scruffy lad returned to H-Town, he was struck by how difficult it was to find European-style hard ciders. An entrepreneur from a young age—he started a skim-board company in high school, and to this day says he has a “huge panic disorder” at the thought of having a boss—Schiffer convinced his parents to invest the money they’d set aside for his grad school in a new biz. The Leprechaun Cider Company was born.
Schiffer sourced fruit from Oregon, insisting on handpicked apples fermented in Champagne yeast. The result: a light-bodied, spritzy cider. Last March Leprechaun’s first tap went live at Houston’s Red Lion Pub and, within weeks, even before St. Patty’s day, was turning up all over town.
As the holiday hits this year, he’s spun off a dry cider, and Leprechaun’s now on tap at more than 100 restaurants in Texas, and sold by the bottle at grocery stores. “Work has quadrupled in the past three months,” says Schiffer, who unwinds at his family’s ranch south of Dallas, and balances work with CrossFit workouts and Buddhism. Not much time for women at the moment, and that’s probably for the best. “I’ll start talking to the bartender about Leprechaun and totally forget about my date,” he says. “But I figure I’ve been going after girls for 10 years now. I can take a break.”
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