The last thing I expected walking into a four-course Belgian beer pairing at Bistro Vendôme was to walk out with a new favorite cider. But that’s the beauty of tasting the unknown. Certified Cicerone Ryan Conklin (who also bartends at Euclid Hall) paired the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché (from Normandy, France), with chef de cuisine Dana Rodriguez’s smoked duck (pictured) with Parisienne gnocchi, black mission fig, wild mushrooms, and La Choulette sauce. Conklin also paired La Choulette Ambrée, a French Biére de Garde style amber ale with the dish, but I found myself ignoring it for most of the course. And that’s not because it wasn’t good.

The effervescent cider (Cidre Bouché denotes ciders that are bottled in Champagne-style bottles) was simply so interesting and complex that I found myself sipping it in sudden sequence to try and grasp what was going on. Immediately, the intense carbonation grabbed a hold, and then I was in for a ride. It tossed my taste buds from sweet apples to pineapple and then back to apples (which complemented the fig in the duck dish). And it finished with a leathery aftermath so bizarre it left me wondering whether I actually liked it.

That dinner—the discovery—took place weeks ago. But the sheer complexity and thrill of the cider has stuck with me ever since draining my glass. I look forward to returning to Bistro Vendôme, where the cider is available by the bottle or the glass.

1420 Larimer St., 303-825-3232