If there’s one person who’s defined London’s cocktail scene in the last five years, it’s Iain Griffiths. After distinguishing himself in his native Australia — he was bartending two days after his 18th birthday — and Edinburgh’s lauded Bramble, he and business partner Ryan Chetiyawardana won back-to-back accolades for Best New International Cocktail Bar: White Lyan in 2014 and the game-changing botany bar Dandelyan in 2015.
The Dandelyan just scooped up another big win: World’s Best Cocktail Menu at the 2018 Tales of the Cocktail, the Oscars of the bar world. To create it, Griffiths focused on plants and all things beyond booze, which caught the attention of Seedlip, maker of the world’s first distilled spirit that’s non-alcoholic — think a mixer with sophisticated enough flavors to sub in for alcohol, without the usual sweetness and fruitiness.
Low-ABV cocktails have been trending since 2017 with aperitifs, niche liqueurs like amaro and fortified wines introducing Americans to the bitter flavors that dominate European drinking culture. To put Seedlip in the spotlight, the brand is launching its own No & Low Cocktail Bar “that emphasizes the drinks flavors and ingredients, rather than alcohol content.”
For two nights on July 24-25, N o l o is taking over 16 of the best bars around the world, challenging bartenders to create their own Seedlip cocktails. But only one bar will have Iain Griffiths personally shaking his own creations, and that’s the sexy speakeasy-esque Nitecap on the Lower East Side. You don’t need a reservation or tickets, just swing by and try his take on the low-ABV trend.
Griffiths created two cocktails for the occasion, and will be making a handful of other No & Lo drinks from the Nitecap team as well: Garden with a View (Seedlip Garden, Campari, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, citrus, soda) and Pepo Spritz (Seedlip Spice, salted passionfruit cordial, grapefruit soda, green olive).
Iain Griffiths does tiki cocktails, too
If you want to get to know more of Iain Griffiths’ methods than may be on display at N o l o, he recently toured the world with his own pop-up series called Trash Tiki, repurposing common “waste” items like watermelon rind, pistachio shells and lime husks into tropical drinks. Bartenders looking to change their wasteful ways — and learn a few new flavor tricks using kitchen techniques — can check out their recipes online.