Basically the minute I decided not to drink alcohol anymore, I started researching what I would drink instead. I love having a drink, the ritual of a beverage being ordered and mixed, the transference of a chilled glass to my warm hand, sniffing out a drink’s aromatics, toasting life and love with the people I drink with, and, of course, tasting something complex and out of the ordinary.
Soda, even nice soda, doesn’t meet my needs. And luckily, in the earliest days of my not-drinking, I came across Seedlip, the world’s first nonalcoholic distilled spirit.
Made in England, Seedlip was founded by Ben Branson. He’s from a farming family and into kitchen arts and crafts, and he had been wondering what interesting thing he might make with the herbs and vegetables growing in his garden. He ran across an old book of herbal remedies and was surprised to see that many traditional distillates contained no alcohol. He bought himself a small still and tinkered in his kitchen.
Today there are two varieties of Seedlip, Spice and Garden. Each is made by distilling a dozen ingredients separately and them mixing them to create the desired flavor profile. They aren’t for sipping neat or on the rocks, the way you would an aged whiskey. You use them as you would spirits for mixing cocktails.
My favorite way to enjoy it is to mix 1.5 ounces of the Garden flavor with a 6-ounce bottle of Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice. For me, this scratches the gin and tonic itch I sometimes get in the summer. The particular blend of herbs and vegetables that go into Seedlip Garden reminds me of gin but doesn’t taste exactly like it. I actually think it tastes better.
Spice Seedlip has the vanilla/wood type notes you find in brown spirits and works best when mixed with something that brings some sweetness and weight to the beverage, like an infused syrup. I think skilled bartenders could work magic with Spice, but because I tend to like to keep it simple, I personally stock only the Garden flavor at home.
Buy Seedlip online at Mikuni Wild Harvest. It isn’t cheap, but remember this is a distilled spirit, a craft beverage, and not a bottle of soda.
Check out Seedlip online for recipes and inspiration if you treat yourself to a bottle.
I wrote an article about creating Seedlip cocktails with a Philadelphia bartender—you can read that here.