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Interview with Paul Mathew – Founder of Everleaf
INTERVIEWS

Interview with Paul Mathew – Founder of Everleaf

This week we caught up with Paul Mathew – Founder of Everleaf, to talk about his inspiration behind the brand, what it’s like to be the non-alcoholic sponsor for Pub In The Park and much more.

Non-alcoholic aperitifs have really taken off in recent years, can you tell us how Everleaf stands apart from other non-alcoholic aperitifs?

There has been a huge demand for great tasting and high quality non-alcoholic and low alcoholic drinks brands over the last few years with people embracing moderation when socialising. In the case of aperitifs, they’re perfectly suited to this, with bitterness being something that can deliver all those adult flavours without the need for alcohol as a solvent.

For me, what sets Everleaf apart from other non-alcoholic aperitifs, is that connection to the natural world, transporting you to our Forest/Mountain/Marine biomes and telling the stories of those plants. There’s depth and complexity behind the flavour. The second part is that we’re not trying to copy an existing alcoholic product. We are pushing the flavour boundaries a little more, providing something that doesn’t already exist as an alcoholic equivalent (fermented cherry blossom in Mountain and all the seaweed umami in Marine for example). I think this is why we’re seeing a lot of bartenders using them in low and even full-strength abv cocktails too – they’re not just for the non-alcoholic audience.

We would love to know how the idea of Everleaf came about?

I grew up as the son of a botanist with my own career in conservation biology too. I have spent a lot of my life surrounded by plants and looking at people’s interactions with them. Initially, I was a biologist who bartended, but one overtook the other, and I became a bartender with a passion for using plants to bring flavour. I have three bars in London, and we were increasingly seeing more and more customers wanting no and low alcohol drinks, so I put my unusual skill set to work to create Everleaf – complex and vibrant and nature’s answer to the best non-alcoholic aperitifs (ones which would match the best alcoholic drinks we had behind the bar).

It took over a year of experimentation to develop Everleaf, from researching plants, dehydrating ingredients, macerating and extracting, through to finding sustainable sources before I had what I wanted. The texture of the drink was the challenge – mouthfeel and viscosity is an unseen part of what makes a drink great; however, I was able to find solutions from the natural world, with answers coming from both the land and sea in the form of acacia and seaweed. I launched Everleaf in January 2019 with Forest, the original expression, followed by Marine and Mountain.


Where do you make Everleaf?

The ingredients for Everleaf come from all over the world, sourced sustainably and then get put together near Brighton. We’re not distillers with a shiny copper still – some ingredients are distilled for us, others are unglamorously macerated in buckets, while others are steam distilled where they’re grown (for example vetiver in Haiti). We’re blenders more than distillers, and the process is I guess more akin to perfumery than gin distillation – or more like bartending really – mixing flavours to get something that’s more than the sum of the parts. Every step we take we’re always learning, tweaking the recipes and evolving Everleaf.

Are you working on anything currently exciting? Any new collaborations?

Everleaf recently launched its signature serve, the Everleaf Spritz, in a 250ml slimline – in the three signature expressions – Forest, Marine and Mountain – so you can now enjoy Everleaf on the go as well as at home. We’re also really proud to be the non-alc sponsor for Pub In The Park this year which has been amazing so far – so many collaborations with chefs, pairing our spritzes with their food. The one with Cue Point at Pub in the Park Marlow was incredible – I could have eaten/drunk that combination all day! (Everleaf Forest Spritz with Borani Kadoo – smoked and roasted pumpkin & squash, braised in aromatic spices with spiced yoghurt, mint and Afghan naan).


Where do you like to go for a great cocktail / mocktail in London?

London’s cocktail scene has so much variety and choice, we’re incredibly lucky – so there are almost endless options for a really amazing cocktail, with or without alcohol. However, I do often find myself sat at the bar in Tayēr + Elementary, as it is an amazing example of real creativity in the industry (plus they always have a non-alc “I’m not drinking…” option on draught at Elementary!).

Naturally you’ll also find me in my bars where we (unsurprisingly) have a range of low and no drinks with Everleaf (not to mention plenty of other non-alc options). Other really notable non-alcs I’ve had recently include the new menu at The Savoy’s American Bar, the fact that you can get the whole Seed Library menu as alc or non-alc, and a personal favourite, the non-alc penicillin at Happiness Forgets! We also had a great Everleaf team evening at the Electric Shuffle recently – they have a great non-alc section so you can stay focused and competitive!

If you had a free day in London to do what you want, where would you go?

I’d start with a run. Running is my happy place where I get my thinking done, plus also a chance to make the most of London’s green spaces. Favourite routes include Hyde Park/Green Park loops, Richmond & Bushy Parks and the SW London towpath (Putney all the way to Kingston and back is a convenient Marathon distance for when there’s a lot of thinking to do!). I guess in a dream day, that’d be followed by a family trip to Kew Gardens; dad worked there for most of his career, so I’ve been going since I was very small and love to show my kids around now. It would have to wind up with some visits to bars, old and new, to see bartender friends and check out all the latest projects.

I keep an open list of places I really want to check out and try to tick a few off whenever I get a chance. London’s drinks scene is always so dynamic and vibrant – someone is always doing something new, but particularly post-pandemic, there’s a lot of creativity being expressed. It feels like although the industry faces a lot of challenges at the moment, it’s also an exciting opportunity for change.

For more information on Everleaf visit: https://www.everleafdrinks.com

Photography courtesy of Everleaf

#everleaf #nonalcohlic #paulmatthew

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