Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits Land In SA
Cocktail-making is being turned on its head as Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit brand, arrives on our shores.
Branded as ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’, Seedlip introduced a world first when it launched in 2015. This non-alcoholic spirit, made with processes similar to those used for its distilled alcoholic counterparts, quickly became a sophisticated alternative for those not drinking booze, and we’re excited that it is now available to us in South Africa.
Devin Cross, Bar Manager at Mix Cocktail Bar in Rosebank’s Keyes Art Mile in Joburg, is one of the connoisseurs already embracing this spirit, mixing drinks using Seedlip’s two expressions: Seedlip Garden 108 and Seedlip Spice 94.
‘There’s been a big trend this year, where I’ve noticed more people asking for virgin cocktails,’ he says. ‘I think it’s part of the move toward being sustainable and healthy.’
He also points to abstinence movements such as Sober October. ‘People are seeing they don’t need to have alcohol to have fun, and are also realising they don’t need alcohol to enjoy a good cocktail experience.’
The fact that Seedlip is packed with layered flavour helps in this regard.
Seedlip Garden 108 contains top notes of the handpicked peas and hay from British founder Ben Branson’s family farm, with a herbal base of spearmint, rosemary and thyme, while Seedlip Spice 94 is more aromatic. Spice berries, cardamom and citrus notes are present in this bottle, with a bitter quality coming from oak and cascarilla barks.
Cross admits that he’s seen a lot of bar people hesitant to embrace the new movement of virgin drinks, but says, ‘Alcohol is not the be all and end all in a drink. Flavour is flavour, and balance is balance.’ He explains that when flavour and balance are well considered, as he finds in Seedlip’s specially developed recipe, they offer endless opportunities for mixology.
‘The flavour carrier in drinks is usually the alcohol,’ he says, ‘but Seedlip has managed to give bartenders a lot to work as it achieves flavour without alcohol due, to its complex processes.’ He talks of ‘pretty complex, raw’ flavours with no acidity. ‘The spiciness of the Spice 94 really comes through without getting lost,’ he says.
Started in a small kitchen in the English woods, Seedlip’s story is one that melds tradition and handcrafted techniques.
With the help of a book called The Art of Distillation (published in 1651), which documents distilled non-alcoholic herbal remedies used by apothecaries, Branson’s experimentation in his small copper still led to perfecting a maceration, distillation and filtration process that takes six weeks.
The results are clearly pulling in the fans.
For more information, visit the Seedlip website.
Try these Seedlip non-alcoholic cocktails at home
- 50ml Seedlip Garden 108
- 20ml sugar-snap shrub (recipe below)
Mix the Garden 108 and sugar-snap shrub in a highball glass and top with soda. Garnish with a carrot slice.
To make 400ml sugar-snap shrub:
Mix together 250g finely sliced sugar-snap peas with 1 cup apple-cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Muddle ingredients together, leave overnight and strain.
- 50ml Seedlip Spice 94
- 30ml lemon juice
- A dash of sugar
- The white of 1 egg
- A dash of white-wine vinegar
Shake all the ingredients together and pour into a glass coupe. Garnish with a lime wave.
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- 60ml Seedlip Garden 108
- 25ml pea shrub (recipe below)
- 5ml agave syrup
Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a Nick & Nora glass, garnished with a few peas.
To make 400ml pea shrub:
Mix together 200g fresh peas with 1 cup apple-cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Muddle ingredients together, leave overnight and strain.
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