Sober People Deserve More Than Sprouts.
I love sober people. I want them to be happy and to feel welcome in all places, including bars. The dry January may be over, but the sober curiosity movement is gaining hashtags, bars with no evidence are popping up in major cities, and companies like Seedlip are releasing fancy-looking gin-free bottles for teetotalers to enjoy at home. (Seedlip is so popular that my dad called me to ask about it.) It’s all fantastic.
But Seedlip is unfortunately La Croix spirits, as it literally tastes like a flat can of flavored seltzer water. This is a disappointing product because it almost accomplishes what it set out to do, and the way you first experience Seedlip will greatly influence your opinion of it. My first taste was consumed directly, at room temperature, from a tiny glass, and I felt myself being pushed, deceived, deceived, the hood winks, leads me astray! The beautifully designed ($ 35) bottle of Seedlip Grove promised me a “gourmet, warm, citrus blend” of all kinds of juicy botanical distillates with a “cool thorn of Japanese sancho”. What I got was closer to the last sip of diluted ice you’ll find at the bottom of G&T. There was a whisper of citrus (and citric acid), but that was all. (I later tried some Spice Seedlip at my bar, and found it to be slightly more aromatic, but remotely medicinal.)
Then I tried Seedlip with ginger beer and all I could taste was ginger beer. I tried it with tonic and all I could taste was tonic (diluted). I tried it with a simple seltzer and all I could try was a weaker version of La Croix. At this point, my palate was clouded with indignation, and I needed a (preferably sober) taster. My favorite sober person (my partner for three years) was at work, so I intimidated A.A. Newton (who is now my neighbor!) And her sober partner (lovely Thomas), forcing them to come to my apartment for an experiment.
I made two non-alcoholic cocktails: an artificial daiquiri based on Garden Cooler Camper English (Camper uses Seedlip Garden; I had a Grove) and a Bee’s Knees style drink with two ounces of Seedlip, one ounce of fresh lemon juice and 3/4 cup. ounce of honey syrup. For each Seedlip mocktail, I also mixed control using water instead of alcohol-free spirit.
To Seedlip’s credit, my tasters even prefer Mocktail made with Seedlip. “That’s not all,” Thomas said. Alice added that it tastes like “really good botanical lemonade.” Things were going well for Seedlip and I let them try it on their own. “It tastes like odorless water,” said Alice. “If I spent $ 35 on this, I would be pissed off,” added Thomas. “It’s nicer to drink a liter of Pellegrino, and I feel like there is more going on with Pellegrino.”
They then tried the tonic product and for a moment everything felt good for Seedlip again until they tried the tonic (which was Fever-Tree) on its own and Thomas stated that Seedlip “actually made the tonic worse” as it diluted aroma and hiss. As they left, I tried to hand Thomas the already half full bottle of Seedlip. He didn’t want this.
This is Seedlip’s problem: its success depends entirely on the skill and creativity of the mixologist, as well as on other aromatic ingredients. Seedlip really koe-that adds mocktails, but that it is difficult to say. “What replaces alcohol should – in theory – be the star of the show, not the finest taste,” Thomas said, and I agree. The seeds have no edge, no bitterness, no body. He’s too thin, too timid, and too secure. Non-alcoholic cocktails, as Alice first noticed, were very good botanical lemonades, but there are much cheaper ways to make good botanical lemonade (lavender syrup, rose water, and fresh herbs are just a few ingredients that come to mind).
However, the sample of three is a small sample, so I reached out to several people with varying levels of abstinence from alcohol. My friend Brett, who quit drinking almost two years ago, seemed to appreciate the whole product. “I am very attentive to Dry January and the sober curious moves,” he told me via email, “but honestly, I think it’s great that people check their alcohol consumption. As we get older, our bodies change, our needs change, and our tastes change. Maybe you just want to see what a no-drink month is like. Maybe this is what will help you understand that you need a year without drinking. Or a life without booze. And if Seedlip or any other zero or low alcohol brand is helping more people get that rating, then I’m for it. ” But Brett also felt that knowing how to use Seedlip was key: “To make a food comparison, an ingredient is really as good as the chef who prepares it. I was on the fence [about buying a bottle], but after seeing what a bartender in Denver could do about it, I decided I wanted to keep a couple of Seedlip bottles. I used to make cocktails at home and Seedlip honestly made me feel like this was something I could get back. “
My friend Nicole recently quit drinking alcohol for a few months and has had different experiences with Seedlip. “[My partner] Dan recently bought me some and it’s not fun at all, as weird as it sounds. I had good non alcoholic cocktails in very nice bars (mostly in New York). It seems like most people have a hard time figuring out how to use it, ”she told me on Twitter. “In fact, Seedlip is great if you’re a cocktail genius,” she said, adding, “Hopefully this is just the beginning and we will continue to innovate.” Another friend of mine who tried Seedlip thought it was “good with Fever-Tree … but a little watery and tasteless without a lot of additives. Bitter tonic is more effective, she added, so I don’t know if Seedlip is needed.
Seedlip may not be needed in its current iteration, but something like that is definitely needed . Lots of people, for a variety of reasons, are looking for soft drinks that will get rid of this bizarre cocktail itch, and Seedlip is almost ready. Branding is nothing, and part of the joy of having a well-fitted bar cart comes from looking at all the pretty bottles. It stands out in this, but Seedlip is also a fantastic muse, and its ability to serve as a filler for subtle booze has inspired both professional bartenders and consumers to get a little more creative with non-alcoholic cocktails. It matters, but in my opinion Seedlip itself is not worth the $ 30-35 it sells for. Such a product must be able to feast on, washed down with seltzer, without looking for taste. If I wanted to find the “essence” of a plant part in a drink, I would take the real (carbonated) La Croix.