Many consumers these days are looking for non-alcoholic cocktails and expect quality equal to those with alcohol. We have noticed an interesting movement called “NO – LOW” with a focus on No ABV or Low ABV content in cocktails. We reached out to Sebastian Robinson who is an Ambassador for a Non-Alcoholic Spirit called Seedlip based in Asia.
Tell us a little about your background? How did you start in the industry?
I feel like my transition to becoming a bartender may be similar to others as initially I wanted to be a chef. I’ve cooked from an early age for fun and as I grew older, I would often host dinner parties for friends and friends of friends. There came a moment when I realized that if I were to pursue becoming a chef I would be confined to the kitchen and that the 1:1 entertainment aspect would be lost. I enjoyed the hospitality, being able to see people enjoy something you’ve spent the time to make and their reactions, so I swapped the kitchen for a bar. The fact you can use similar techniques for cooking and bartending certainly helped my decision.
Can you describe your job in one sentence?
It’s like shredding the Gnar on an infinite mountain slope.
What’s your choice of poison (Booze or Seedlip)?
Always depends on occasion but Seedlip Garden 108 in a Highball Style drink is my go-to.
Can you introduce our patron’s to Seedlip and how it came to be?
Seedlip was created in 2015 by a gentleman called Ben Branson who set out to try to solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking and the demise of “mocktails”.
You’re based in Hong Kong. Can you describe China’s drinking culture?
No! Haha! The country is gigantic, diverse and full of choices. However, I would say that tradition, heritage and prestige towards products is a major influence on how people consume.
How do you see the drinking culture across Asia moving forward?
Constantly moving forward for the best and I’m extremely proud of the region I operate in. Some of the finest Bars and Restaurants in the World are now in Asia so the culture is clearly on a global level, which is something I’m honoured to be witnessing.
Can you share interesting stories, reactions from when you introduced Seedlip to new consumers?
I would say that Seedlip as a brand constantly gives people a eureka moment. I’ve witnessed several times when a person has finally understood our purpose and the product’s genius. I remember one time somebody kept saying “shut up, no way!!!” as the more they tasted, and I explained they couldn’t believe what they were drinking and hearing.
Which one of Seedlip’s products is your favorite to work with and to drink?
Seedlip Garden 108, I can have it 24/7! For me, it’s the hardest to use sometimes but the most rewarding when you get the cocktail just right.
Can you share a few tricks about how to use Seedlip?
All the inspiration you need to start making drinks is on the bottle. If you can decipher what ingredients are depicted in each of the animals on the labels, then pick an ingredient and highlight it in a cocktail. I’ll give you a clue, PEAS!!!
One of the new trends in USA are Non – Alcoholic bars are there any similar beverage programs across Asia?
To my knowledge nothing as extreme as that but I’ve seen menus that feature drinks that can all be with or without alcohol, which I think is very innovative.
We have noticed that several of your recipes use “shrubs” can you describe what it is?
Super tasty!!! Shrubs are a way of preserving fruits and vegetables, originally used on long sea journeys. The basic ingredients in a shrub are sugar, raw vinegar and fruit which can then be left for up to one month.
Can you share a Non – Alcoholic cocktail recipe for our patrons?
A good place to start is here https://www.instagram.com/seedlipcocktails/?hl=en. We also wrote a collaborative book with some of the world’s best bartenders, which is also pretty handy. Here’s one from me:
60ml Seedlip Garden 108
22ml Shiso Syrup*
60ml Sparkling Yuzu Soda
- Add Seedlip and Syrup to a Collins Glass.
- Add ice and top with soda.
- Lift to mix and garnish with twist and Shiso.
300ml Boiling Water
300g Caster Sugar
20 Shiso Leaves
- Dissolve the sugar in the water.
- As the water cools add the leaves and allows them to infuse for 20 minutes.
- Fine strain into a storage vessel and store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Makes 400ml.
Thank you, Sebastian. Wishing you a successful year 2020 and looking forward to catching up soon.