15 years ago, the first hard cider – Lucky Dog – was made in Latvia

15 years ago, the domestic beverage producer Latvijas balzams started making what was, at the time, the first hard cider in Latvia, Lucky Dog, based on apple juice concentrate and a recipe developed by Latvian food technologists.

Today, hard cider with the Lucky Dog brand is available in five flavors and is the second most popular hard cider in Latvia and the 12th most popular alcoholic beverage.*

According to data compiled by Latvijas balzams, since 2000, when production of Lucky Dog was started, to this day 28,148,450 liters of this lightly fermented alcoholic beverage have been produced.

The company’s technologists remember that the path from idea to finished product was rather long, and that at the time there was no strong conviction that consumers would accept a product that was not characteristic for Latvia, where cider drinking traditions were new and developing. However, the risk-taking and innovation proved themselves – Lucky Dog for 15 years has been the best selling hard cider in Latvia.

As Lucky Dog brand manager Kristīne Zūpa-Rasimāviča explains, the relative weight of fermented drinks, including hard cider, in total alcoholic beverage consumption is comparatively small, just above 2%. However, in recent years there have been lifestyle changes that lead one to thing that the popularity of hard cider will increase.In terms of flavor choices, Latvian consumers are rather conservative and favor tested values as well as sweeter drinks. Therefore ‘dry’ versions of Lucky Dog cider appeared on the market only in 2013. For many years, comprising more than half of sales, the most favored have been apple cider with pear flavor and apple cider with vanilla flavor. Increasingly popular is Lucky Dog pear cider or perry.

* State Revenue Service Excise Tax Administration data on alcoholic beverages sales in April, 2014.