Seedlip’s Ben Branson changed the alcohol-free scene
In the last five years, there’s been a boom in new drinks; craft beer, cocktails and spirits make for a wide selection of alcohol-based experiences. Unfortunately, our non-alcoholic enjoying friends cannot say the same. Ben Branson wanted to change this. So he created Seedlip.
Seedlip is a range of distilled non-alcoholic spirits. The idea is a product of Branson’s personal experiments — the remnants of which can be found in his home and garage in Amersham, UK. “In 2013, I was researching herbs online to grow at home and came across […] The Art of Distillation [a book] that documented these remedies,” Branson recounts. “I initially experimented with a little copper still in my kitchen and herbs from my garden. Three months later, I was out for a meal, wasn’t drinking, and asked the waitress what non-alcoholic options they had; her sad, apologetic face was the moment all the dots joined and I decided to do something about it!”
His mother’s family has been farming Lincolnshire for over 300 years. While working the farm, his ancestors were distilling both alcoholic and non-alcoholic herbal remedies. “Creating Seedlip was the perfect opportunity to bring together my mother’s farming heritage and my father’s brand design expertise,” he states, “to rid the world of poor, fruity and sweet soft drinks and solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking.”
Branson’s passion for natural ingredients inspired the current line up, which includes Garden 108 and Spice 94. “I love peas,” he says. “Nature is our compass and the pleasure we get from hand-picking peas from my farm that are then distilled so that we are able to serve it with tonic at an event and garnish with peas, well to us, it’s the perfect journey!”
It’s an exciting time in the drinks industry, one led by innovative minds like Branson’s. He and his team are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible without alcohol. “We’re doing this in two key ways,” Branson says. “We are inspiring bar and restaurant teams to give as much attention and effort to their non-alc offering as they do to their alc cocktails and food menus, and we have developed a range of exciting cocktails with Seedlip that showcase what’s possible when you think beyond fruit juices and syrups. Our recently launched NOgroni was the result of eight months of work and 22 ingredients that we launched to the some of the best bartenders out there at the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards in London.”
In just two years, Branson took Seedlip from a one-man kitchen operation (that sold out within weeks of launch) to a full-fledged team providing non-alcoholic spirits to restaurants, bars and retailers across the UK, the United States and now in Canada. And he won’t stop there.
“We are launching our third product [this] spring, which is really exciting and I’m afraid my lips are sealed,” Branson teases. “We have also been working on a dark spirit for the last three years. It’s technically extremely difficult, but hopefully 2018 will be the year my Master Blender and I can crack it!”
Lazy Mixologist Christine Sismondo suggests this cocktail recipe; it works really well Seedlip Garden 108.