Non-alcoholic spirits are trending. And they can keep up their alcoholic counterparts when it comes to flavor and quality. So what is the secret of the incredible success of alcohol-free spirits? 63Magazine met up with one of the pioneers in this field to discuss his passion.
Stylish, hangover-free enjoyment that leaves you fit to drive at any time: there is a noticeable market trend toward sophisticated spirits with complex aromatic compositions without a drop of alcohol. More and more people want to go without alcohol, but not without enjoying their drinks. And yet, while the trend towards a healthier and more body-conscious lifestyle has long since become firmly established in the food sector and the range of offers has grown accordingly, the transformation in the drinks industry is moving at a slower pace. Even today, anyone looking for an elegant non-alcoholic drink as an alternative to apple juice, lemonade, or a coke often faces sickly sweet, candy-colored mocktails.
That's exactly what happened to Ben Branson on a Monday evening in an upscale London restaurant. “What I was served that evening neither made sense with the meal, nor the ambience,” says the founder of Seedlip, recalling the initial spark of an idea for his innovation. “It was a deflating experience, and at that moment, I knew there was a need for an adult, non-alcoholic option.” The idea was to produce the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits as an alternative to alcohol and to serve as the base for delicate non-alcoholic cocktails. However, as revolutionary as it may seem, it is not exactly new. The Art of Distillation by John French was first published in 1651. Here the English doctor documented his distillation process for the production of non-alcoholic plant-based remedies – it functioned as a kind of “Distillation 101” for Branson’s first experiments.
Image: Clear elegance – Seedlip spirits are refreshingly.
Armed with a small copper still and herbs from his own garden, he spent almost two years tinkering. He sought advice from distillers, growers, and historians, until he was ready to launch his first non-alcoholic spirit in 2015: Seedlip Spice 94. And it made a huge impact: the first thousand handmade bottles sold within three weeks, the second thousand in three days, and the third in less than half an hour. Nowadays, the best bars and luxury hotels around the globe also serve the exquisite non-alcoholic spirits from Seedlip.
What was the secret behind its success? Perfect timing was certainly part of it: the market was more than ready for sophisticated spirits that don't make you tipsy. In addition, as well as his experience as a product designer for drinks brands, Ben Branson had the agricultural tradition of his family on his side. “For more than 300 years, my family has owned a farm where peas are cultivated. The key ingredients for the success of Seedlip are my desire to continue that tradition and my passion for nature, which is my greatest source of inspiration.”
Image: Exquisite ingredients at 0.0% – Ben Branson’s spirits are totally non-alcoholic.
What to drink when you're not drinking?
With that background, it is no surprise that peas are of great importance to Branson. His second spirit, Seedlip Garden 108, for example, uses the green legume as its base, complements it with herbal notes, and thus captures the essence of rural England. And the brand name “Seedlip” not only refers to the baskets that were used in harvesting peas back in the day, but also describes the process the ingredients go through: “From seed to lip.
"Branson’s passion, the authenticity of the ingredients, and the result of a unique production process are valued by gourmets and the pioneers of the global gastronomy scene. To make best use of the natural ingredients, Branson macerates, distills, and filters each ingredient individually, and only brings the flavor components together only at the end. "We are continually overwhelmed by the reactions from retailers, restaurateurs, and our loyal customers. It's all very exciting.”
Would you like to enjoy non-alcoholic spirits in the comfort of your own home? With the following recipes, you can create exquisite cocktails however you like – it could be classic, or more extravagant, but is guaranteed to be hangover-free!
„We want to change the way the world drinks with complex, adult, non-alcoholic drinks.“
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team & Seedlip
Cocktails that keep you on track – that kind of conscientious indulgence is also very popular among the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Thanks to a global partnership with Seedlip, Hamilton, Bottas, and their team stay refreshed with alcohol-free drinks mixed with the non-alcoholic spirits from the British entrepreneur. A winning combination!
Photography | Jakob Layman | PR