Much of Frankfurt was destroyed in WWII and though some of it has been reconstructed, like the historic center of the Römerberg, the city's thriving business scene overshadows its cultural. But it's not all business, business, business in this modern German city. This is the birthplace of Goethe! Some of the country's best museums are along Main River. And this is the best places in Germany to drink Apfelwein.
What Is Apfelwein?
Apfelwein (apple wine) is the quintessential drink of the region and is an acquired taste. Called Ebbelwoi by some locals, ordered as a Schobbe by others, it is also known as Apfelmost farther east (like in Wurzburg) and in Austria. The area around Frankfurt is one of the richest fruit producing regions in Germany so it is only natural that some of that freshly pressed apple juice is allowed to ferment and become alcoholic.
Apfelwein is usually the product of Granny Smith or Bramley apples and has an alcohol content between 4.8 to 7%. It has a tart, sour taste, not sweet like many mass-produced American ciders. Note that while Germans may mix lemonade or cola with beer, you should never order a cider mixed with lemonade. The only mixer approved is a hot Apfelwein with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon to fight off a cold - practically health food.
The drink was traditionally served in a geripptes, a .3 liter (10 oz.) glass with angular cuts that refract the light and improve grip. Most places now offer sturdy salt-glazed stoneware mugs known as a Bembel with elegant blue detailing.
Pair your Apfelwein with traditional Franken dishes like Grüne Sosse (herbaceous green sauce) with hard-boiled eggs or pungent, poetically named Handkäs mit Musik (sour milk cheese with chopped onions and caraway seeds). Many places offer a Frankfurter Platte (Frankfurt platter) full of sausage and meat to fuel you up and keep you drinking.
Essential Hessian Phrases for Drinking Apfelwein
- Dribb de Bach - Over the stream. This is how people living in Sachsenhausen describe their area on the southern side of the Main. (The area north of the Main are called Hibb de Bach).
- Ebbelwei - An alcoholic drink made from apples
- Guude wiie? - Hello, how are you?
- Hibb de Bach und Dribb de Bach - Northern and southern parts of Frankfurt
- Petze - Drink
- E Schoppe un e Schöppsche - A glass of cider and a small cider
- Sich ablesche! - Go to bed
Where to Drink
One of the easiest ways for a visitor to step into typical Frankfurt life is to find a seat at a cider tavern, known in German as an Apfelweinlokal. If you ask around, everyone will guarantee that their recommendation is the best. This means it is hard to find a place that doesn't satisfy, especially in Frankfurt's Sachsenhausen district.
Family-run since 1931, this location near the city center is beloved by tourists and locals alike. Its traditional, boisterous atmosphere is bolstered by an array of Apfelweins, perfectly paired with a menu of Frankfurt specialties like Tafelspitz mit Frankfurter Grüner Sosse (stewed beef with green sauce).
Reservations are recommended on weekends. For those guests that have had their fill (and more) of Apfelwein, the family runs a hotel right upstairs. Note that this is an Apfelwein only establishment - no beer here!
- Address: Schweizer Str. 71, 60594 Frankfurt
After opening as a pub and bakery in the 16th century, Apfelwein Solzer has been run by the same family for the last five generations. They have kept it in business by being the definition of Gemütlichkeit. Visitors feel welcome as soon as they step in the door. Their Apfelwein is produced on-site and they are happy to serve a good Schoppen.
- Address: Berger Str. 260, 60385 Frankfurt
Zum Gemalten Haus translates to "this way to the painted house" and that is exactly what you will find. Yes, it has the delicious food and Apfelwein necessary for a top Apfelweinlokal, but it also has endearing murals. In the warmer months, take advantage of the biergarten where the paintings follow you outside.
- Address: Schweizer Str. 67, 60594 Frankfurt
Good vibes, good Apfelwein, and good music are the themes of Hof Seppche. Family owned for nearly 50 years, every Wednesday there is live music as bustling Kellnerin in Dirndl carry armloads of the good stuff. Watch for holiday celebrations and check out the menu for a modern take on classic dishes.
- Address: Alt-Schwanheim 8, 60529 Frankfurt
"In the Sun" has a traditional environment encompassed in a 500-year-old timber-frame building on trendy Bergerstraße. There is beer and food, but people crowd in for the Apfelwein. If you really must drink something different, Mispelchen is a popular liqueur. The cozy character of the interior - warmed by chimneys in winter - extends into the Biergarten in the summer.
- Address: Berger Str. 312, 60385 Frankfurt
Herr Schneider started selling Apfelwein from trees on his own property in the late 1800s. To serve his guests, he would clear the living room so all could enjoy.
Today, accommodations are a little more comfortable but just as homey. It has been family-run for generations and is one of the best known in Sachsenhausen.
- Address: Neuer Wall 5, 60594 Frankfurt
Named for the adoring founder's wife, Schöne Müllerin (the beautiful miller-maid) is yet another Apfelwein destination that claims to be the best. With some of the tastiest food in town, a full embrace of local holidays and a charming waitstaff, it is hard to disagree.
- Address: Baumweg 12, 60316 Frankfurt am Main
Among time-honored establishments, this is one of the oldest still in operation. Begun in 1849 (with a hiatus between 1980 to 1993), it offers the same style and great value as it did when it opened. Try the daily meal for something authentic and filling.
This rustic, claustrophobic space is filled with the noises of happy drinkers. In the summer months, the Biergarten opens and the Apfelwein and beer keep on flowing. Be prepared to wait on the weekend or just squeeze onto a bench and make friends.
- Address: Wallstraße 5, 60594 Frankfurt am Main
This is the kind of place that has the proper lived in feel of a good pub. Frankfurt favorites like Grüne Soße are made from scratch and a helpful Vokabeltrainer (Vocab trainer) help introduce tourists to a true Frankfurt experience. Settle into the warm wood booths and let the Hessian accent wash over you. After a few Bembel, perhaps you will comfortable enough to join them.
- Address: Willemerstraße 11, 60594 Frankfurt am Main
If you want to take your Apfelwein on the road, the Ebbelwei Express (Apple Wine Express) is a historic tram that combines touring with drinking. For the kiddos, there is non-alcoholic cider and everyone can enjoy the traditional Schlager music.
The Frankfurt Apple Wine Festival provides every version of the fruit wine. Bartenders get crazy with it and concoct unusual cocktails with the Hessian beverage of choice.
If you're not content to rely on the experts, there are all the tools you need to enjoy drinking Apfelwein at home from Geripptes to glass covers to sturdy Bembels.
For entertainment, there is music and food, but also typical Frankfurt folklore and dialect poetry. This is a platform to highlight Hessian culture.
- Location: Roßmarkt
- Nearest public transport stops: Roßmarkt and Hauptwache