Two words to describe Ceder’s? Young and wild. Although this brand of NA spirits is still in its tender age, it’s already wildly successful. In just six years, Ceder’s thoughtful range of complex gin alternatives have won dozens of awards for their unparalleled flavors and quality. Started by an international couple, it marries cultures by bringing unique botanicals from South Africa to the rest of the world. We caught up with Lucy Kelly, Ceder’s marketing manager, to chat about the exotic botanicals they’re obsessed about, the recent trends in the gin market space, and the importance of symbiotic relationships—within the team, with customers, and nature.
We traced the origin of your brand to at least two countries. Tell us more about your DNA and how Ceder's came about?
Lucy Kelly: Ceder's is a young brand that is now part of the top 10 non-alcoholic spirits sold globally, that owes its success to a truly international past. Created by a couple in 2017, it was always the story of marrying cultures. The couple in question were Craig from South Africa and Maria from Sweden who both had expertise in the alcohol industry and wanted to develop a strong non-alcoholic alternative to their favorite G&Ts. In homage to Craig and Maria and the brand's origins, we continue to use South African botanicals in our entire range and feature the Swedish national flower on our label—can you spot it?
What are some of the exotic botanicals endemic to South Africa you're using in your drinks?
Rooibos is our hero ingredient and is an incredible botanical, grown predominantly in the Cederberg mountains (where Ceder's gets its name!) and popular worldwide for the herbal tea full of antioxidants and delicate sweetness. Another botanical is Buchu, less well known, but equally beautiful. It has a few formats, and like Rooibos, it is part of South African fynbos, so it can be found growing wild along the Western Cape coast of South Africa. These natural parks are the birthplace of Ceder's, which is why we're particularly proud to now be members of 1% for the Planet—giving 1% of our annual revenues to environmental charities dedicated to protecting these types of beautiful natural landscapes.
Could you give us a breakdown of the flavor varieties: are they meant to represent the four seasons?
We're incredibly proud of our four flavors: Classic, Crisp, Rose, and Wild. With each of these unique varieties, we really wanted to create a quality non-alcoholic alternative that had an option for every occasion. Classic is packed with all the traditional flavors such as juniper and citrus that pair incredibly well with tonic for a simple and delicious drink, as well as being an excellent base for a non-alcoholic martini. Crisp is the freshest of our flavors, bursting with cucumber and mint—it's perfect for summer. Rose is our most floral option, slightly sweet and beautifully delicate—it's my go-to for a special occasion or when I have guests over for a Spritz. Finally, Wild—full of spice, ginger, but balanced with the delicate sweetness of Rooibos. Wild is perfect for winter or experimenting in cocktails: my favorite is the Ceder's Spiced Wild! (recipe on our website :)
Are there any popular ingredients you see in the NA space that should be avoided?
At Ceder's, we love innovating and never say "never". The non-alcoholic category is exploding with exciting new alternatives of old favorites and we love to experiment with new flavors to see how they could integrate into the Ceder's range. But we definitely have our favorite ingredients.... like Rooibos! And the hard work pays off, Ceder's has already won over 30 medals in international spirit competitions and we are looking forward to continuously searching for new innovative recipes. Stay tuned!
With summer just around the corner, is there a Ceder's recipe for a perfect summer drink?
There are so many! Just like with the flavor options of our range, we're conscious that everyone has different tastes in cocktails, so whether it's a Spritz, a Sour or a Martini— there's a non-alcoholic Ceder's recipe on our website for each of them. Personally, for a summer cocktail by the pool, I would go for a Ceder's Pink Spritz: one part Ceder's Rose, two parts non-alcoholic prosecco in a large glass over ice, garnished with a grapefruit slice—perfect!
Have you noticed any curious trends in the gin market recently?
We're always interested to see what's happening with our friends in the gin category, and the trends are often similar to non-alcohol! Exciting flavor combinations, colors and cocktail recipes in both categories mean there is never a dull day. We are strong believers in moderation—we can see more and more of our consumers are alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic options depending on the time of day, day of the week, or even switching up during the same occasion.
Lastly, what would be your advice to fellow brand builders in the field?
Change is a team effort! We're proud to be bringing quality non-alcoholic products to the market in order to give people a sophisticated alternative to alcohol. As we claimed during our last January campaign: "Make January anything but Dry!" Responsible consumption doesn't need to mean sacrificing on flavor or experience, or your social life, and we're excited that so many other brands are working in this space to make people aware that they no longer need to settle for less!