High-end cocktail programs are now almost required to offer zero-proof cocktails that are just as complex as their boozy offerings. While more and more products are coming onto the market to enable that, Seedlip—the first non-alcoholic distilled spirit to hit backbars—continues to be one of the only ones found at many restaurants and bars, like Dante, Dead Rabbit, and more. To get a better sense of the brand that’s begun a movement, we chatted with them about the product.
When did Seedlip begin and how? What was the impetus behind its founding, and why was it the right time?
Seedlip didn’t begin as a business idea at all! Our founder Ben Branson was looking into different herbs to grow at home and came across a book online written in 1651 called The Art of Distillation which documented Apothecaries’ alcoholic & non-alcoholic distilled herbal remedies.
He initially just began experimenting with a little copper still in his kitchen and herbs from his garden. Three months later he was out for a meal, wasn’t drinking, and was given a pink, fruity, sweet cocktail, it didn’t go with the food and he left wondering why there couldn’t be better options available.
He then spent the next two years creating Seedlip as the perfect opportunity to bring together his mother’s 300 year farming heritage and his father’s design expertise to rid the world of poor, fruity and sweet soft drinks and solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking with adult, complex non-alcoholic cocktails and Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits.
From his kitchen 3.5 years ago it has been an absolute rollercoaster. We now have offices in the UK, LA and Sydney, three products in our range and are working with many of the world’s best bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers across 28 countries. It’s surreal!
Seedlip is rather open about its deep connection to farming—much more so than many alcohol brands. Why is this?
It was only when Ben began to understand that the world and how we’re drinking is changing that the mission to solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking, invent the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits and continue his family’s 300-year legacy of working with the land came together as a business idea! The Peas and the hay in Garden 108 are sourced from his farm in Licolnshire, United Kingdom.
Seedlip still stands alone on backbars as a non-alcoholic, distilled spirit. Why do you think this is?
In general, those who drink Seedlip seem to care about what they eat and drink, they care about where things come from and who is behind the products they buy. We don’t add any sugar or sweetener and our products are sugar-free and calorie free. We source the best ingredients nature has to offer to capture their true characters in complex blends so we can offer people an alternative to the fruity sweet drinks on offer if they aren’t drinking.
How have you seen zero-proof cocktails evolve in your time working with the brand?
In the last 12 months, there have been over 50 new entrants in the category from over 15 countries and there is certainly an explosion underway in the whole non-alcoholic category, in beer, wine and spirits. We are proud to champion the need for quality non-alcoholic drinks, committed to building a sustainable category and are happy to see other people also now working in this space. We have a much coveted bespoke production process that takes six weeks with many interesting ingredients sourced from our farmers and I hope a really exciting brand with surreal partnerships with the likes of Michelin Virgin Atlantic, the world’s 50 best bars and restaurants, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, to mention a few.
What do you think is the future for zero-proof cocktails and non-alcoholic spirits?
The evidence that globally people are consuming less volume of alcohol has been widely documented and this coupled with the steep decline of sugary fizzy drinks, a younger generation shunning alcohol altogether and the focus on health and wellness all point toward a long, positive future for this movement.