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Tom Gabb: The tale of non-alcoholic spirits

- July 18, 2017

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The term non-alcoholic spirit sounds like the kind of oxymoron that would make you double take. For example, if someone said to me I was about as useful as a non-alcoholic spirit I would feel like I was being insulted, as it turns out though, it might be a compliment. This is because the applications for an exciting, tasty and contemporary adult beverage with no ABV are not only numerous, but also fill a gap in the market we all knew was there but never really addressed.

It would be impossible to explain this new variety of alcohol free libations without focusing on the world’s first and technically only non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip. Named after the kind of basket used for holding seeds, this new liquid is made adhering to 17th century apothecary methods once used to make elixirs. Essentially using the same distillation methods we use to make gin, the chosen botanicals are melded with water and evaporated to vapour infuse the flavours.

One gin out of the evening may take a back seat to Seedlip

Basically, Seedlip is a spirit and every other non-alcoholic drink so far isn’t because of one simple reason, it is distilled. Years ago, when alchemists would distil liquid, they would collect the vapor, and gather the “spirit” that came off the material. That’s where the word came from. So, in basic etymology this product still fulfils the prerequisite for being called a “spirit”. Whereas if you stick sugar, juice and preservatives together, it’s just an “adult soft drink” like the offensively sweet Shloer or those obscure vermouth imitations (ironically, most people mix these with alcohol).

Now you may be thinking this is some flawed concept that only bartenders are ever going to try, but it is already being served in some of the best bars in Britain and the world. The American bar at The Savoy serves this in its house mocktail, and that’s serious. Not only that but the prize for winning the Seedlip cocktail contest is an ACRE OF LAND in Lincolnshire to grow your own botanicals. So, creator Ben Branson is doing pretty well for himself.

With all this in mind, it looks as if non-alcoholic spirits are on the precipice of being the next big thing and its refreshing to see. I’m not going to say I’ll stop drinking gin, but one gin out of the evening may take a back seat to Seedlip. if only to spare my head in the morning.

Tom is a bartender at Drakes Brighton, and was a finalist in the Black Cow Vodka Gold Top Cup, www.drakesofbrighton.com


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