There has never been a better time to drink hard cider. Taking a cue from craft-beer brewers, creative cidermakers are taking their drink to bold, new, and surprising places: barrel-aging it in whiskey and wine casks; playing with fermentation to add new textures and flavors; and adding unusual ingredients like hops, peppercorns, even seaweed to offset the sweetness associated with traditional ciders. "There is as much variety in cider now as there is in beer or wine," says Greg Hall, owner of Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan. Case in point: Cider-specific pubs are now open — and thriving from New York City to Portland, Oregon. We recently sampled dozens of these new-breed offerings. Here are the eight we liked the best.