08 August 2018
In The Spotlight: Seedlip Founder Ben Branson
Are non-alcoholic drinks actually becoming a thing? They are now. Taking over the world with the first ever no & low alcohol cocktail bar, N o l o, we caught up with the Founder of Seedlip to find out how his delicious, herbaceous botanical brew managed to steal the hearts of a boozing nation. Find out how you can ditch the hangovers for good, by lacing your drinks with this botanical flavour heaven. Read the full interview with Ben below.
Are non-alcoholic drinks actually becoming a thing? They are now. Taking over the world with the first ever no & low alcohol cocktail bar, N o l o, we caught up with the Founder of Seedlip to find out how his delicious, herbaceous botanical brew managed to steal the hearts of a boozing nation. Find out how you can ditch the hangovers for good, by lacing your drinks with this botanical flavour heaven. Read the full interview with Ben Branson below.
So why Seedlip?
It was whilst researching interesting herbs I could grow at home, I came across a book written in 1651 called ‘The Art of Distillation’ that documented distilled herbal remedies – both alcoholic & non-alcoholic. Out of sheer curiosity I began experimenting in my kitchen with home-grown herbs & a copper still….It was when I was out for dinner at a really nice restaurant in London — great food menu, amazing cocktails, that I asked the waitress what they had that was non-alcoholic and she just looked at me rather sadly. I was like, ‘You're not excited about this, and I'm definitely not excited about what’s on offer.’
I then began to research whether anyone had created a sophisticated drink for a non drinker, that pandora’s box opened & I realised that the opportunity to solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking with the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits was an opportunity to grab with both hands!
How did the name come about?
In the 17th century, farmers used baskets called Seedlips to sow seeds. My grandmother told me this story about my family when I was searching for a name for my company.
It honours my family’s farming background & literally explains taking ingredients out of the ground - from Seed to Lip.
Why do you think non-alcoholic drinks are in?
People are becoming increasingly mindful of their health, what they put in their bodies, where their food and drink comes from and the continued influence our social media led lives have on how, what and where we consume. These societal shifts ultimately impact whether we want to drink alcohol or not and are resulting in us drinking less but better, favouring more meaningful experiences over functional “let’s go out drinking” evenings. This is forcing a recalibration of our relationship with alcohol.
Are they here to stay?
Trend wise, there is definitely a growing acceptance that better NA options need to be considered and offered but it’s still such early days! Globally we are at the beginning of a paradigm shift in the role drinks play in people’s lives with a number of bigger cultural forces at work that mean the timing and need for quality, adult NA options has certainly never been more relevant.
The pressures on both the alcohol and the soft drinks industries are widely documented which coupled with our unprecedented access to health information means 2018 is set to be a defining year of balancing the scales!
What’s been the reaction to Seedlip so far?
Seedlip is just over two years old and I am continually in shock and awe!
In that time, we have grown from me in my kitchen to 60 employees worldwide with offices in London and LA, cocktails featured in the top 3 cocktail bars in the world, listings in over 100x Michelin * Restaurants and we are now proudly stocked in over 3000 accounts globally. The demand has been overwhelming, the timing ideal and the hard work so far absolutely worth it as we demonstrate a new category and approach to thinking about what we drink.
What drink would you go for on a night out?
There are so many great summer-time Seedlip cocktails, many of which have been created by some of London’s top bartenders - the ‘Nearly NOgroni’ for example, which is on the menu at The Savoy's American Bar is awesome! We are seeing some really intertesting new cocktails being created with our newest Spirt too, Grove 42, in the likes of The Coral Room, Kettner's Townhouse & The Edgbaston Hotel.
How could you best entice a boozer with Seedlip?
Seedlip is for those people who are not drinking for whatever reason, which in this day and age covers a myriad of reasons from those who can’t: pregnancy, medication, the designated driver to those who aren’t: having a night or week off, lunch & brunchtimes, early start the next day, to those who just don’t.
Seedlip is sugar & sweetener free, has no calories or allergens and therefore to provides a great base for a drink, be that simply mixed with tonic or in NA cocktails.
What’s in the pipeline for Seedlip?
Well, January was a brilliant start to the year - we announced plans to create a number of new brands to further expand the Non-Alcoholic category as well as our plans for the plant laboratory and experimental nursery we are building on my farm. It will be a temple to the natural world.
Last month we unveiled the third spirit to join the Seedlip family, Grove 42, which is a citrus blend of distillates including Blood Orange, Mandarin, Bitter Orange, Lemongrass, Ginger & Lemon....sunshine in a glass!
At the end of July we launched an innovative new bar concept simultaenously in x16 cities around the world - N o l o by Seedlip. Our No & Low alcohol bar pop-up saw a focus on the ingredients & flavour of a drink rather than alcohol content. The reception we received in the run-up to N o l o & over the 2 nights themselves was incredible to see!
We are over two years old now and I’m in awe of what we have achieved so where we’ll be in another two years… well… I’m ready to be amazed and just so grateful to be working with such a wonderfully driven team who are committed to changing the way the world drinks!
PEEL Cocktail for a Non-drinker:
Grove 42: 50ml
Carrot Cordial*: 20ml
Method: build in tumbler over ice, top with soda water and garnish with sage leaf.
*Recipe for Carrot Cordial
Water: 500 Ml
Caster sugar: 500g
Carrot peelings: 250g
Method: Add all the ingredients to a saucepan over a medium heat & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover & simmer for 30 mins. Remove from heat, cool & strain into a bottle.
Grab yourself a Seedlip cocktail at some of the best bars around town, including Soho House, Dandelyan and The Savoy.