Alcohol-Free Spirit Everleaf Was Inspired By Nature

As both non-alcoholic spirits and apéritif-style beverages flood the market, it makes perfect sense that a new zero-proof beverage brand would draw on the tradition of using complex botanicals to design a sober-friendly (as well as budget-friendly) apéritif.

Everleaf, a new drink brand out of the UK, is the brainchild of Paul Mathew, a former conservation biologist who took inspiration from the natural world to craft his non-alcoholic spirits. The three current products, Marine, Forest, and Mountain, are each inspired by different nature biomes and the sensations they evoke. Some of their more interesting ingredients include seaweed carrageenan and gum acacia, which give them body and a silky finish that adds more of a textural component compared to other non-alcoholic spirits. "We use something from the land and something from the sea," Mathew explained to Tasting Table.

"The attraction with non-alc is there aren't any rules," Mathew continued. "So you can do what you want. And with my background in plants, and knowledge of different flavors and aromas and ways to do texture, it was a really exciting opportunity to experiment. The background in conservation biology, I guess, gives me a bigger palette of flavors to work with. I've got a big repertoire of different flavors and colors and textures and aromas that I can pull from."

Biologist to bartender

Mathew was raised in the UK by a botanist father, who passed along his knowledge and love of plants during trips to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, where he worked. This encouraged Mathew to pursue a career in conservation biology, and he spent several years working for Fauna & Flora International, traveling to Chile, Vietnam, Brazil, the Caribbean, and other nature hot spots. He then made the switch to bartending, opening his first business, The Hide Bar, in London in 2006. Over time, Mathew began to synthesize what he'd learned as an ecologist with his career as a mixologist, eventually leading to the launch of Everleaf.

Mathew was also inspired by the cocktails he drank in different countries while traveling for his conservation work, like pisco sours and caipirinhas in Brazil, and mojitos in Cuba, which tasted differently depending on the local ingredients used. "I've always wanted to kind of showcase the best of different alcohols and kind of link that to where they're produced and how they're produced," Mathew explained. "[When creating Everleaf] it was a chance for me to kind of do that from scratch and try to create the biomes and draw on the influence of all the native plants to do that."

Everleaf styles and cocktails

Everleaf makes three spirits: Marine, Forest, and Mountain, each priced at a reasonable £20 in the U.K., and $34 in the U.S. Each "spirit" contains between 12 and 16 different botanicals, which give them a distinctly three-dimensional taste. Forest is marked by the primary flavors of saffron, Madagascan vanilla, and orange blossom, giving it a sweetness tempered by earthiness. Mountain is bright and floral, with notes of cherry blossom, rosehip, and strawberry. Finally, Marine has saline and umami notes reminiscent of a day at the pool, infused with bergamot, kelp, and sea buckthorn.

Each of these products can be drunk straight, or like a spritz, with 3 parts tonic water or seltzer to 1 part Everleaf, and perhaps a bit of lemon or lime. But Everleaf has also designed a number of cocktails specifically for their products, like the citrus & thyme highball with Marine, the alpenglow with Mountain, and the vanilla sour with Forest.