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Cider is a term whose meaning depends on what country you live in. In the United States, it is legally synonymous with apple juice, but is generally used to refer to juice with a relatively dark color and strong flavor, while the term "apple juice" is generally reserved for lighter colored and blander variants. In most of the rest of the world, "cider" refers to the alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting apple juice, a product which is referred to in the United States as hard cider. This product is often, but not always, carbonated, and generally has from 5 to 6 percent alcohol by volume, although many examples have more, particularly among traditional ciders or 'scrumpy'.

In England, there are strong cider making and drinking traditions in many western counties including Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Herefordshire and others. Most cider sold in pubs and shops is mass-produced, which tends to result in a clear, quite dry beverage. Traditional cider can be dry, medium or sweet, and is often cloudy because of small bits of apple pulp that remain in the drink instead of being filtered out.

In the last few years, 'premium' cider has become popular in the United Kingdom, especially with young people. Premium cider is usually heavily advertised and served in pubs from refrigerated bottles, usually with ice. Its popularity has even led to renewed interest in variations such as pear cider and 'fruit cider', which is apple-based but flavoured with other fruits such as blackcurrants.

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