When I first heard about Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, I was skeptical. Though I mainly drink to experience the joy of a perfectly crafted cocktail or straight spirit, I’d be lying if I claimed the alcohol buzz wasn’t a big part of why I imbibe. But as a liquor journalist and enthusiast, it’s my duty to try the best, worst and weirdest spirits so that I can ensure that you, dear reader, are drinking the best stuff that’s out there. So when I was invited to experience Seedlip, I put aside my reservations and gladly accepted.
It’s easy to make a great virgin cocktail at home, but ordering a non-alcoholic drink in a bar or restaurant is, for the most part, a bleak experience. “I was out for a meal and wasn’t drinking, so I asked the waitress what non-alcoholic drink options they had,” Ben Branson, founder of Seedlip, told me. “Her sad, apologetic face was the moment all the dots joined, and I decided to do something about it. Two years later, I was hand-bottling and labeling the first 1,000 bottles, which sold out in London in just three weeks.”
Drinking more than the average imbiber comes with the territory when you’re someone who writes about booze for a living. Sitting down to taste the booze-free booze at NYC’s Blue Hill, where Seedlip sits proudly amongst its boozy brethren on the back bar, I found that an overwhelming majority of the journalists there with me had been trying to drink less, and we agreed that having an epicurean non-alcoholic option would make things easier in a social setting. “If you’re not drinking for whatever reason, the alternatives are typically sub-standard,” Branson said. “Consumers we speak to are delighted that they can now make themselves a Seedlip & Tonic at home or have Seedlip cocktails when they’re out and still feel part of the group.”