Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, Arnold Palmer: all attempts at creating non-alcoholic beverages. What they have in common is a syrupy sweet backbone with little reference to the pungent flavors you find in cocktails like a Manhattan or Negroni, which are made mostly with spirits. Order a lime and soda and it's less sugary but has one note. This flavor gap is why it's so hard to decide what to drink when you aren't drinking.
The solution to this dilemma can be found with Seedlip, a non-alcoholic distilled spirit created by Ben Branson in the United Kingdom. By discovering a book from 1651, "The Art of Distillation," by John French, Branson learned how to prepare non-alcoholic herbal remedies using copper stills. The book was originally used by physicians. Branson, who has a farming heritage, used herbs from his garden to experiment with flavors.
Using all three Seedlip products, including Spice 94, Grove 42 and Garden 108, I experimented with different mocktails. Spice 94 is a combination of Jamaican allspice berry, cardamom, oak bark, cascarilla bark, grapefruit and lemon; it tastes like warm fall spices or gingerbread essence. Instead of using whiskey, I mixed Spice 94 to create a mock whiskey sour. The result was a refined and sophisticated cocktail that competes with the original—minus the possible hangover.
Grove 42 is a blend of bitter orange, blood orange, mandarin, lemon, ginger and lemongrass. The flavor is citrusy, clean, and smells a little like pickle. It has overly zesty dry notes that delivered my favorite mocktail, the Blossom. When the Grove is combined with simple syrup, lemon juice and orange juice it tastes like a margarita with less tang and more garden. Perfect for sipping poolside on a hot summer day.
Garden 108 is a fusion of peas, hay, rosemary, thyme, spearmint and hops that translates into drinking fresh cut cucumber with basil. I mixed it with a splash of Navidi's cara cara orange and vanilla balsamic vinegar and topped it with soda. The mocktail was complex and super refreshing.
After trying a few Seedlip cocktails, it's easy to see why high-end restaurants and hotels around the world have added them to their bar menu. Finally, elevated drinks for people who love cocktails but don't want alcohol.
2 oz. Seedlip Grove 42
.5 oz. Fresh lemon juice
.75 oz. Fresh orange juice
.5 oz. Simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients with ice, shake. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime peel.
The Black Bird
2 oz. Seedlip Grove 42
1 oz. Meadowland Oregon black bird simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker combine Seedlip, simple syrup and ice, shake. Pour into glass and top with soda. Garnish with marionberries.