It's Zero-Proof Cocktail Hour in the Test Kitchen
Find out what's been happening in the world of 42 Burners, aka our test kitchen, with this new weekly series.
Did you give up booze for January? While Dry January isn't quite our speed, the test kitchen is really enjoying experimenting with a game-changing product in the mocktail scene: Seedlip, billed as the world's first distilled nonalcoholic spirits. Inspired by the alcohol-free herbal remedies that apothecaries used to make in 1600s England, Seedlip's "spirits" are flavored with herbs, spices, peels, and barks and go through a six-week-long copper-pot distillation process. They're made in the UK and only recently became available stateside. Already they are creating quite a splash in the craft cocktail world.
There are currently two varieties of Seedlip: Garden 108 and Spice 94. According to food editor at large Shira Bocar, the first thing you notice about both is the salinity. She says, "When we were tasting it, we wondered if there was a vinegar component. It's different from a shrub and has a really complex flavor." The Garden 108 is made with peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, and thyme and reminds the team of summer: "It's bright, light, and slightly savory. We've been enjoying it with a little seltzer, cucumber, and lemon." The Spice 94 contains allspice, cardamom, oak, lemon, grapefruit, and cascarilla and "is definitely for the cooler weather months" according to Shira. "The warm spices would be fantastic with maple or a darker sweetener."
Last week, Shira and senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell attended a dinner that paired Seedlip cocktails with the new vegan menu at British restaurant The Fat Radish in New York. Not only was this "sober vegan party way more fun than it sounds," but they were also very impressed by the drinks. Two standouts: a nonalcoholic Negroni cleverly dubbed the Nogroni, which is made with Spice 94, and the Garden Sour, which teams Garden 108 with celery, apple, lemon, nigella seeds, and instead of the traditional egg white, aquafaba (chickpea liquid for the uninitiated).
Shira says, "I find most mocktails to be very sweet, but these were the opposite. They were super complex and interesting and paired nicely with food. We loved how the Garden Sour called for all these savory components -- it made the drink way more sophisticated and brought out all the flavors of the botanicals." Our takeaway: cocktail hour may forever be changed, or at least less boozy.