A refreshing article from EITb:
The cider elaborated in the Basque Country nowadays is different from the cider manufactured elsewhere.
The real origin of cider cannot be traced exactly, but many historians say it was first elaborated in Egypt in the times before Christ. Other researchers say its origin was among the Celts in Europe. Nevertheless, it was the Arabs that made it known throughout the world and spread its techniques of production.
The native cider of the Basque Country is the Natural Cider or Hard Cider, which is exclusively manufactured using different kinds of apples. However, the cider manufactured in the rest of the countries is carbonated or champagne cider. The latter is more artificial, and its ingredients are a mix of apple juice, must and extracts, to which gas and sweeteners are added.
Cider houses are usually "baserris" -or country houses- mostly located in Gipuzkoa, which have facilities for the preparation and bottling of cider, and a space for the "kupelas" (barrels) and long tables where patrons can taste the specialities (cod omelette, fried cod with green peppers, and barbecued steak). The season begins in January and finishes mid-April.
During these months, it has become a tradition for the Basque people to come to these cider temples to practice the "txotx" ritual, which is extremely beautiful and peculiar. The owner of the cider house chooses a "kupela" (barrel) and he yells out "txotx," thus inviting all those attending to taste the cider. Consumption of cider is unlimited.
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