Who would have guessed that this story started with beer? Not just any beer, but tasty, hand crafted beer sought out by the tellers of this tale. Nikki moved to Massachusetts for the final stint of her schooling and keeping with her mid-western roots, she was actively seeking the title of 'regular' at a local tavern. After a thorough search at breweries throughout western Massachusetts and southern Vermont, she settled on a nice little place nestled in the heart of Greenfield, MA known to the locals as The Pint, renowned for its artisan brews.
Meanwhile, Dan was toiling away in the basement brewery of The People's Pint, crafting flavorful and creative Bristish-style beers. He too was looking for that perfect pint, and with his background in food science, he figured he might as well do it himself. Dan and his business partner opened The People's Pint, a bar and 80-seat restaurant, in 1997 and served homemade beers, sodas, and a full menu that drew heavily on local produce and meats--back before the local food movement was even hip! Dan was the mastermind behind many of the beer and food recipes The Pint still uses today.
So, every Friday night throughout the year 2000, Nikki would belly up to the bar and was served delicous ESB's and hoppy pale ales by a particular bartender with a twinkle in his eye. Their friendship grew, and the next thing everyone knew, it was pretty obvious Nikki had achieved her much desired regular status.
Fast forward to the summer 2003, Nikki and Dan set off on their tandem bicycle to tour England. You see, they were still interested in this beer-thing; however, half way through the trip, Nikki was tired of flat ales and iceless gin and tonics, so she started drinking cider, an ominpresent tap on at each tavern across the U.K. In addition to draft ciders, there were distilleries and apple spirits, pubs dedicated entirely to cider, and a whole region of a country whose culture was built around the apple. Nikki and Dan made many a barn-stop, where people were making cider on his or her own; plywood signs invited locals (and the occasional crazy cyclist) to stop in for a homemade cider—they learned quick to bring their own containers. Cider became a revelation on this journey, and little known to the riders at the time, this trip set the course for Tandem Ciders.
Next up was a big wedding, a move to Michigan, and a tremendous welcome to the fruits of Leelanau County. So many apples, so little cider. Nikki went to work for fruit farmers while Dan spent some time with the Inland Seas and Leelanau Cheese Company. After three years of planning, writing, thinking creatively, Tandem Ciders was born. From the design to the building itself, they worked to build a place that reminded them of the many pubs from their English cycling tour: warm, fun, intimate--a place to stop, relax, and enjoy life for a moment. They also wanted the 'cidery' to feel as though it was always part of Leelanau County, a place where neighbors and visitors would come for a pint, a taste, for the weekend or each Friday night.
Nikki and Dan had a hand in it all with the terrific help of family and friends (you know who you are!). The dream was for each person to walk into Tandem Ciders and feel right at home. For many so far, Nikki and Dan have achieved that goal, but if you don't believe it, stop by and see for yourself--you might even become a regular.