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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Gayatri Bhaumik | May 24th, 2020

With eight years in Asia’s beverage industry under his belt, Sebastian Robinson knows a thing or two about quality spirits and great cocktails. Now though, as the Asian Brand Ambassador at Seedlip Drinks, he’s turning his hand to bringing that mixologist touch to non-alcoholic spirits.

A Little Background

Robinson’s work with bars and restaurants throughout China as an importer, distributor, and brand ambassador. He’s been a bartender and manager and handled operations and consultancy. So, he was the perfect choice to be the first Asia Brand Ambassador for Seedlip, which touts itself “The World’s First Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits.”

5 Things You Should Know About Low-ABV and Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  1. People Are Drinking Less

In general, a growing majority of people now realize that moderation is key and choose to look after themselves through a holistic lifestyle. There’s been so much research into the health advantages of choosing to drink less alcohol, and there are lots of reasons why people are choosing to drink less, like prioritizing health and wellness or wanting to get the most out of days without hangovers. Drinking mindfully has become something to be proud of and it’s now socially acceptable to go out and not drink.

I’ve found that in Hong Kong, there’s a necessity to go out and socialize and that alcohol is often involved; however, as a fast-paced, professional city, people want to be moderate in their consumption.

Seedlip was born in 2015 and even back then, there were the beginnings of a shift in the way people consumed alcohol. Ben Branson, Seedlip’s founder, was a leader in this cultural shift and launched Seedlip at the perfect time. Now Seedlip offers a variety of non-alcoholic drink options so you don’t have to compromise on taste or feel left out of your social circle if you’re choosing not to drink.

2. Non-alcoholic drinks are hard to make

Let me rephrase that – non-alcoholic distilled spirits are hard to make. Ben went to great lengths to get Seedlip from seeds to lips and creating the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits was no mean feat. It takes around six weeks to make Seedlip, from sourcing the best ingredients and individual maceration to our copper pot distillation process to create out special blends of botanicals – that’s why the flavors in each of our Seedlip expressions are so deliciously complex.

Of course, when it comes to making the actual drinks with Seedlip, these can be as simple or complex as you like. Our signature serve is the Seedlip & Tonic, which is as easy as it sounds – 50ml of Seedlip, a premium tonic, ice, and garnish.

3. But you can create some seriously great drinks, too

We love making sophisticated adult-tasting drinks that replicate the sophistication and complexity of an alcoholic cocktail. Ben was inspired to create Seedlip after a night out in London, when all he was offered as a non-alcoholic option was horribly sweet, juice-laden mocktails. We prefer to call our drinks non-alcoholic cocktails.

Seedlip provides a spirit that you’re able to use as the base of your drink and therefore fits in the same space as an alcoholic ingredient. It provides a sophisticated flavor profile that would hold up in any cocktail, and we’ve seen some amazing bartenders embrace Seedlip in Hong Kong and create some incredible drinks. I’d suggest trying the Seedlip drinks at places like 11 Westside, Café Gray Deluxe, Caprice Bar, COA, and Lobster Bar & Grill, for example.

4. There are actually many varieties of non-alcoholic spirits

As a pioneer of the non-alcoholic space, we’re pleased to see the category growing. When you walk down some supermarket aisles in the UK now, there are dedicated non-alcoholic sections where there were once only alcoholic beverages. This is a massive statement on how people are consuming alcohol and the growing demand for good quality non-alcoholic options. Currently, in the Seedlip range, we have three expressions to choose from – Herbal Garden 108, Citrus Grove 42, and the Aromatic Spice 94.

5. Non-alcoholic expressions are different from Low-ABV spirits

Don’t confuse the two! Non-alcoholic beverages should contain below 0% ABV and once mixed, an absolute 0% ABV. When we’re talking about low-ABV drinks, the alcohol content should be lower than 5%.

Even some kombuchas can be slightly boozy – I distinctly remember being ID’d for kombucha that was 3% ABV in New York City a few years back, which highlights the difference between non-alcoholic drinks and low-ABV drinks!

Looking towards the future?

We’re always learning, adapting, creating, and producing, and that’s what I love about working for Seedlip. In the UK, we’ve launched our sister brand, Æcorn with the help of Claire Warner-Smith and it’s been very well received. We’ve also had great success with our Seedlip & NOgroni RTDs. Watch this space to see how we roll these amazing drinks out across the globe and continue to change the way the world drinks!

Read more Hot Seat profiles here.