Our area has an impressive array of chefs and restauranteurs who come from every corner of the world to show off here in the Triangle. However, we’re incredibly lucky to have many of these culinary connoisseurs who hail from the Tar Heel State originally, too. This rotating series will feature food service establishments of every realm from restaurants, food trucks, food products, culinary services and beyond. We will include just enough information on these local foodie superstars to give you a “quick bite” that we hope will inspire you to go out and try their food for yourself. This time around, we’re giving you more of a sip than a bite, featuring L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider, a cider made right here in the Triangle.
Michael O’Brien started L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider with his son, Anderson, back in 2012. Michael first learned how to make cider from his wife’s uncle. Once he tasted the hard cider, he says, “I had never had such a refreshingly intense cider. This sparked something in me to create a product this area didn’t have. There are plenty of sweet ciders produced here, but we wanted to stay ahead of the curve to sell something different.” Michael gives Anderson credit, saying, “He (Anderson) is an intuitive engineer. He helped build and design the apple press and grinding system we use today.”
What makes L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider unique to the Triangle?
Fishing Creek Hard Cider is based in Whitakers, just about an hour northeast of Raleigh. As one of the first cideries of North Carolina, L.L Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider has a lot to offer. Their tagline of, “It’s like champagne from apples” fits its product to a T. Slightly sweet with a dry finish, their cider is not the sickeningly sweet version many people think of when they think of cider. Keeping with the theme of family business, Michael’s great-grandfather L.L. Draughon is even featured on the bottle cap of every bottle of L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider. As Michael says, “I believe in doing one thing and doing it well. All of our cider is made from fresh pressed apples, it’s not from concentrate. We’d like to keep to a small scale of production so we can continue to focus on the quality of our hard cider.”
What makes the Triangle “home” for you?
Michael was born in raised in Wilmington. After attending college and working in Raleigh for years, Michael had the chance to move back to his family’s farm to continue the farming legacy. Along with the Hard Cider production, Michael’s farm produces a large variety of cut flowers for sale at farmer’s markets around the area. Michael is a 7th generation farmer, stating, “I’ve never been traditional. I did the big city thing for a while, but it really was fun coming back to my roots. I grew up with fond memories of our farm and I’m happy to continue this tradition with my family.”
Where can we find out more about L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider?
L.L. Draughon’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider may be a down home, Southern, small business, but they are on multiple facets of social media to keep their customers satisfied! A few places you can purchase their cider across the Triangle include Tasty Beverage, Seaboard Wine, Bottle Revolution, Paddy O’Beers, Sam’s Quik Shop, Sam’s Bottle Shop, Cave Taureau, Mattie B’s, Weaver Street Market, Southern Season and Elaine’s. Head on over to learn more about their product and events on their website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @