Meet Ben Branson, Founder of Seedlip
January has come around, and with it Google searches for "Dry January" have sky-rocketed. The phrase used to conjure up images of sugary pre-prepared mocktails or a boring lime and soda, but thanks to the team at Seedlip, we can now drink sophisticated and genuinely delicious non-alcoholic cocktails, that are served without the pitiful glances from our friends. We spoke to Ben Branson, the founder of Seedlip:
What's your idea of the perfect pairing?
Typically non-alcoholic options overpower food with their sweetness and given Seedlip is sugar free, savoury and plant forward, our range of non-alcoholic cocktails pair very well with food, complimenting it rather than dominating it. The brightness of Seedlip Garden works perfectly with fish, salad and white meat dishes and Seedlip Spice, with its earthy’ness is great match for dark meat, stews and desserts. Our range of non-alcoholic aperitifs called Æcorn are also fantastic options with food as an alternative to wine.
Who is on your cocktail bar speed dial?
There are so many fantastic bars around the world now but if I had to give a shout to five; Lyaness in London for a beautifully refined and exquisite hotel bar experience. Maybe Sammy in Sydney for a smart, relaxed after work drink. Old Man in Hong Kong. Small, intimate, best after dark with technologically fantastic drinks. Nomad in New York. Impeccable service, full flavoured drinks in a wonderful central New York hotel. Paradiso in Barcelona. Clever, fun, inventive with the most colourful bar aprons going!
What is the one ingredient you couldn’t possibly live without?
Peas. I’m quite obsessed with them! I have P.E.A.S tattooed on my knuckles, we hold a world record for the most peas eaten in 30 seconds with a cocktail stick (50 if you’re wondering), are very fond as a team of a pea pun and are proud that it’s the main ingredient we harvest from my farm to use in Seedlip Garden 108. Served with tonic and garnished with a sugar snap pea it’s the perfect drink!
Where is London's best kept secret?
Chelsea Physic Garden holds a pretty special significance to me. It was opened in 1673, just 22 years after The Art of Distillation was published in London. It was the book that I found detailing how apothecaries distilled non-alcoholic remedies, which eventually gave birth to Seedlip. We held the launch event for Seedlip at the Chelsea Physic Garden back in 2015 serving non-alcoholic martinis to bartenders at 9am! It’s a gem.
Where would we find you outside of London?
At my 17th century farmhouse in Hertfordshire or enjoying the stillness of our farm in North Lincolnshire. It sits high on the Lincolnshire Wolds in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and we are currently converting one of our barns into a research laboratory and experimental plant nursery called Beasley, which is incredibly exciting. We want to champion the diversity of edible plants and the opportunity to work with them to make delicious and sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks!
What is your favourite Richard Brendon collection?
Simplicity is key to me, so I’m a fan of the Fluted Old Fashioned glasses, which would work perfectly for our NOgroni. When serving a cocktail – whether alcoholic or not – beautiful glassware should always be one of the first considerations, as this all adds up to creating a great experience.
Stemmed or Stemless?
You’ve just woken up: tea or coffee?
Have you ever been behind a potter’s wheel?
I haven’t. I love wood-working, candlemaking, taxidermy and painting so perhaps in 2020 I need to get behind a wheel. My love of crafts is I guess how Seedlip began. It was back in 2013 when I was researching growing more unusual plants for my herb garden that I discovered apothecaries were distilling non-alcoholic herbal remedies and bought a little copper still to experiment with. It then took two years to create Seedlip and we launched in Selfridges and the first 1000x bottles sold out in 3 weeks! All hell broke loose, we couldn’t keep up and the demand for a decent non-alcoholic option became overwhelmingly clear as many of the UK’s best bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers began supporting us. Fast forward to today and we are so proud to work with the likes of Waitrose, M&S, Ocado and Daylesford and many of the UK’s leading cocktails bars and Michelin * Restaurants who want to offer customers and guests great non-alcoholic options.
Where is your first point of call for gift shopping?
Selfridges. The iconic London department store holds a special place in my heart, as it’s the place we launched Seedlip in 2015.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
Giving Kate Moss a two hour 1 to 1 masterclass in making Seedlip cocktails just 6 months after we launched was pretty cool!
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Our 16 week old daughter River without doubt.
What’s your go-to dinner party dish?
My father in law’s homemade sausage rolls!
How do you switch off?
Either by being out in the fields with my dogs, in the cold, in space and peace and quiet. It’s a real indulgence, and a rewarding healthy thing to do that keeps me sane, or chopping wood.
Richard loves sourcing antique saucers - what do you collect?
Hats, 1940s Penguin books, glassware, mid-century furniture, chairs, candles, axes.
How would you describe your personal style?
I don’t really think I have one that’s specific so I’ll go with how I’ve heard my team describe me that has my cheeks blush. Farmer chic….!