August 11, 2017
If you don’t drink alcohol or you simply prefer not to drink when flying, there’s no longer a reason to feel left out.
It’s not that our regular non-alcoholic cocktails aren’t refreshing. Or there isn’t a place for tonic without gin. But while you’re in our Clubhouse, you deserve something extra special. Thankfully Seedlip – the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits – have come along and changed the game. With a delicate mix of botanical flavours and aromas, Seedlip delivers – at long last – something that is every bit as enjoyable as the most sophisticated alcoholic cocktail. And it’s just the thing to set you up for your flight.
From this month we’re introducing three new non-alcoholic Seedlip cocktails to our Clubhouses. Whether you have to work onboard, or want to feel fresher on arrival you can now enjoy a top quality, booze-free cocktail as you relax before your flight. And our Clubhouse bar team are reporting that our customers are loving the new drinks, and Sandrae Lawrence of Cocktail Lovers magazine said “this customer enjoyed them VERY much”. High praise indeed.
We headed to central London to catch up with Ben Branson, the man behind Seedlip, to discover how the brand evolved from an idea hatched in his small cottage kitchen in the woods, to a high-end spirit now served in some of the best restaurants, hotels and bars in the world.
We met at the House of St. Barnabus in the heart of London’s Soho – a unique mix of charity and not-for-profit members’ club doing fantastic things for homeless people across the capital. Here in the centre of London, Ben readily admits to being far more at home out in the countryside than in a big city. In fact nature is a thread that runs through the Seedlip story.
“I adore nature, growing things and natural history. I love old cooking and nature books, and it was through reading an ancient book, The Art of Distillation, that I ended up going down the rabbit hole that led to Seedlip. I have a 1664 copy (the original 1651 book was owned by King George III and is held in the British library), and after reading that I bought a small copper still and started to experiment.” With over 200 herbs and spices documented in the book, the centuries-old tome sparked a deeper interest in apothecaries and herbal remedies, eventually leading to the creation of the Seedlip brand.
It’s fair to say that Ben is also obsessed with peas. ‘it is my mission to raise the profile of peas’ says Ben. “My family have been farming them for generations back to when peas were a real luxury. That didn’t change until Clarence Birdseye came along in the 1920s and started freezing them. We now handpick and freeze all the peas used in Seedlip Garden 108 spirit.”
It’s just over 18 months since Seedlip produced its first run of 500, which were hand-bottled, labelled and delivered. The gorgeous creative itself plays a huge part in Seedlip’s positioning as a premium brand, from the copper caps and detailing to the exquisite label artwork which references 17th century botanical illustrations. Since that first run, Seedlip’s two spirits have found their way into some of the world’s most renowned drinking and culinary establishments, including the Michelin-starred French Laundry in Sonoma, California and the Dead Rabbit cocktail bar in New York City. Many more are on the horizon.
So where next for the mercurial Ben and his barnstorming brand? Earlier this year, at his first attempt, the Seedlip garden won Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show. Ben is also developing a third version of Seedlip, about which he is remaining tight-lipped, other than to say it will be a dark spirit. That opens up yet another wonderful array of non-alchoholic drinks, and it goes without saying we look forward to adding those to our cocktail menu in due course.
At the end of our chat, Ben bounces off to get ready for the Great British Pea week (there really is such a thing) to continue his crusade by promoting smashed peas on toast as a breakfast dish. Now there’s an idea!
Seedlip comes in two versions:
As well as being completely non-alcoholic both spirits are sugar, sweetener, calorie and allergen free
Our Clubhouses offer these Seedlip cocktails:
Ben’s recipe for Smashed Peas On Toast
Method: Put the peas in a bowl and cover with boiling water straight from the kettle.
Leave to stand for 2-3 minutes; drain.
Roughly mash with a potato masher, then stir through a good glug of olive oil and season with Pea salt to taste.
Serve on top of freshly toasted Sourdough, with Mint butter. Serves 2