The Cuckoo Inn at Hamptworth has been chosen as local Cider Pub of the Year by the Salisbury & South Wilts branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
The pub, which is situated in the picturesque village on the edge of the New Forest has 20 different ciders on sale and the range and quality of these and the skill that landlord Nik Amplianitis shows in ensuring that they are served in top condition won him the CAMRA award.
Greek-born Nik, who took over the pub near Salisbury a year ago, was presented with the winner’s certificate by Jane Foster, the CAMRA branch’s Cider Champion, outside the thatched free house, which has been a pub for the last 150 years.
“Nik’s passion for cider is fantastic,” said Jane. “The range of ciders that he sells and the knowledge and enthusiasm that he shows is truly exceptional. They are in excellent condition, partly because he makes sure that they are kept at the right temperature.
“The whole ambience at The Cuckoo is good.”
Nik said: “I am so excited to get this award, it is a huge honour. When I re-opened The Cuckoo last year I had only four beers and four ciders on sale but since then I have steadily increased the numbers.
“You need a lot of different ciders to cover the whole range and now I feel that I have something for everyone. This award is recognition that I did not overreact and put on too many and it means a lot to me.”
The Cuckoo is owned by the Hamptworth Estate. Nik, who has lived in the UK for 10 years, was invited by the estate’s owner to take over the pub, which was lying empty and in need of renovation. In just over a year, he and his wife Sofia have restored the fortunes of this much-loved venue, which is once again popular with locals and visitors.
Only pubs selling real cider were considered for the award. CAMRA defines real cider as being fermented from the whole juice of freshly pressed apples, without the use of concentrated or ‘chaptalised’ juices.
Chaptalisation is a process where the alcohol level is increased by the addition of sugar, and then diluted with water to the desired alcohol content for sale.