To prepare the ribs, place them facedown on a nonreactive cutting board and pull off the membrane (this is the thin layer of fat that runs along the underside of the rack).
Trim any excess fat.
Prepare the rub by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Use your hands to rub the seasoning mixture all over the ribs.
Place the ribs on a clean sheet tray and cover them in plastic wrap.
Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight).
When you’re ready to cook the ribs, prepare the grill by removing the cooking grate and stacking the charcoal on one side.
Be sure to build the fire on the windward side of the grill, so that the wind will blow the smoke in the direction of the food as it cooks, and not the other way around.
Place a drip pan on the empty side of the grill, then replace the cooking grate.
When the coals are hot, place the water pan directly over the coals and fill the pan about three-quarters of the way full with hot water.
Arrange the ribs over the drip pan with the meatier side facing down, then cover the grill so that the vent is directly over the meat.
If you’re leaving a thermometer inside while the meat cooks, place it next to the ribs before closing the lid.
Adjust the bottom vents so that the air is coming in directly under the fire, so that the smoke will continuously pass over the meat and out through the upper vent throughout the cooking time.
You want the temperature to remain consistent, somewhere between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
If it threatens to drop too low, you’ll need to add more charcoal (or hickory wood chips, if you have them) to your fire.
Try not to open the lid any more than is necessary to maintain the right temperature.
While the ribs are cooking, prepare the glaze.
Combine the syrup, cider, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, and cayenne in a nonreactive saucepan.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the mixture becomes syrupy, add salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
After about 3 hours, turn the ribs.
Cook for another hour or so, until the meat falls easily off the bone when prodded with a fork.
Brush the glaze onto the ribs and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the ribs from the grill.
When cool enough to handle, slice them so that they can be stacked individually.
Serve with lots of napkins and the beverage of your choice.