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High Spirits

There's no question Americans love beer. But now, it seems, they've taken a shine to a spirited newcomer, alcoholic cider. Call us stir crazy, if you must. But judging by the current demand for "hard cider"-which typically packs an alcohol content of 4 percent to 6 percent-we expect more pubs and supermarkets to jump on the cider bandwagon.

"We're kind of tagging onto the microbrewery scene," says Kevin Settles, 37, president and founder of Selkirk Cider Co., a Sandpoint, Idaho, company that sells apple, pear and raspberry cider under the Seven Sisters label. "There's not a whole lot of radically new items that can come out on the beer scene, and people don't want to drink the same thing for very long. They're always looking for something new, and we really fit that category."

Settles, who launched Selkirk Cider nine years ago, took the beverage road less traveled after learning of the tremendous popularity of hard cider in Europe. The risk paid off: Selkirk Cider is projected to ship 40,000 cases of cider in 1996-triple last year's production.

Generation Xers, according to Settles, form the core market for hard cider. We'd be willing to bet this same group will also be the ones downing the next up-and-coming drink: alcoholic lemonade.

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High Spirits.

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