Seedlip, a non-alcoholic distilled spirit, arrives in Australia
Photography: Rob Shaw, styling by Aimee Jones
12:00AM, Oct 10, 2017
A soda and lime? A concoction of fruit juices? For the most part, the question of what to drink when you're not drinking alcohol can be pretty uninspiring when you get to the bar. But former creative strategist Ben Branson is doing his bit to change that with Seedlip, the world's first non-alcoholic distilled spirit.
"If you're not drinking alcohol for whatever reason, the options are poor," he says. "It's fruity, sweet or standard, rather than grown-up and great-tasting."
Launched in London in 2015, Seedlip's non-alcoholic spirits can now be found at some of the world's best bars including The Dead Rabbit in New York, and Dandelyan and The Clove Club in London, along with restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and The Fat Duck. And they've just hit Australian shores.
Branson farms ingredients in the Lincolnshire countryside, where his family has worked the land for 320 years. He began experimenting with distilling after reading The Art of Distillation, a volume published in 1651, which contains a number of non-alcoholic herbal remedies.
"I started playing around in my kitchen," he says. "It kicked off a two-year process of working with historians, distillers, botanists and farmers to try to solve this modern drinking problem."
There are two expressions of Seedlip: Spice 94 and Garden 108. Spice is an earthy mix of cardamom, Jamaican allspice berries and American oak ("for a bit more nuttiness") with lemon and grapefruit peel. The more herbaceous Garden combines spearmint, rosemary and thyme with hay and green peas from Branson's farm.
"We've been growing peas for 70 years," he says. "What Hendrick's did with the cucumber, we're going to do that with the pea."
Each ingredient is distilled separately in copper stills before the alcohol is removed from each, and the distillates are blended, diluted and bottled - and there are no additives or sweeteners.
Seedlip is typically served in a tall glass with tonic and a citrus garnish - fresh peas optional. "There's no theatre, no ritual and nothing to talk about when you're forced to order something so boring as a soda," Branson says. "We want to change that."
Seedlip, $49.99 for 700ml, seedlipdrinks.com