Non Alcoholic cocktails? Make mine a double
It’s usually a lot of fun going out for Cocktails as it’s as much a concept as a range of drinks. In most people’s minds the word spells hotel lounge bars, or plush banquettes in well-appointed clubs, with only the likes of Del Boy thinking that a drink bearing a slice of fruit and a paper umbrella looks good in a pub. In the 20s and 30s the money`d folk who drank cocktails still dressed for dinner, and the idea of cocktails being something a bit special still exists.
Cocktails have a varied history, from making a drink that society ladies would find less brutish, to escaping detection in “Speakeasies” during the Prohibition. Often brewed out in the woods, Prohibition-era alcohol was generally very rough drunk neat, so many fruity combinations were dreamt up that made things a bit more palatable. But what if you don`t want to get sozzled, but still want to join in the fun? The choice used to be just mineral water or Mocktails, essentially just a blend of fruit juices.
That made things a bit boring if you didn`t drink alcohol, were the “designated driver” for the night, or just taking a break from drinking. Why not, thought Ben (proprietor of Seedlip) distill some of nature’s finest botanicals in a copper pot still and make a proper non-alcoholic spirit as a base for some new cocktails? Right now he has two principle offerings, ‘the Spice 94’ and the ‘Garden 108’.
It was a nice treat for my system to start the evening off with 5 different drinks that even most doctors could recommend. Don’t write in, if I`m wrong I`ll buy you a quintuple brandy and we can see who feels best in the morning. The cast, in order of appearance were: ‘Spice 94 and Tonic ‘containing botanicals that would not be out of place in a more flavoursome gin, and this makes a very acceptable G&T substitute for a couple of rounds. The Lancaster serves it with a whole segment of pink grapefruit which also imparts a citrus edge.’ Garden 108 & Elderflower Tonic ‘ very clean and refreshing, and showcasing the accompanying cucumber exceptionally well. The elderflower gives a sweet edge, but not cloyingly so. Would also go well at a garden party by the river I thought. Now I just need a big country house with a river at the bottom of the garden. ‘Spice Sour’ served in a martini coupe, containing fresh lemon, white wine shrub and star anise. The lemon hits first, followed by a warm and spicy finish. One of the best Seedlip combinations ‘Seedlip Garden & Apple Soda’ quite sharp, with a semi-sour, almost cranberry edge to the raspberry. Too little of the intriguing lemon curd component seems like a missed opportunity. ‘Seedlip Garden & Apple Soda’ a bit light to qualify as a cocktail for me, but an undoubted thirst quencher. Very much a summer day drink on the terrace. I`d better make it a big country house with a terrace, as well as a river.