If you don’t know Mr. Lyan’s name, you may or may not be living under a rock. He’s the high priest of London’s bar scene, and whether you’ve had the pleasure of drinking within his stomping grounds or not, Mr. Lyan (otherwise known as Ryan Chetiyawardana) and his world-renowned watering holes should be on your radar.
He debuted White Lyan (now Super Lyan) in 2013. It was the first bar in the world to fully eliminate the use of perishable goods, such as fruit and ice, and it made waves throughout the global bar community. In 2014 he opened Dandelyan inside the Mondrian London, followed by Cub, a sustainable bar and restaurant in partnership with zero-waste pioneer Doug McMaster.
Chetiyawardana has received numerous high-profile awards, including Tales of the Cocktail’s 2016 Sustainable Spirit Award and 2015 International Bartender of the Year; Imbibe’s 2017 Personality of the Decade; Diageo Reserve World Class 2009; Havana Club Grand Prix 2012 UK Bartender of the Year; and many more.
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Today, Dandelyan is a sustainability leader, offering an innovative program, “The Modern Life of Plants,” that takes an honest look at the industrialization of botany.
Somewhere between making the bar world a better place and winning awards left and right, Chetiyawardana took the time to weigh in on our Lucky Sevens questionnaire. Here’s what he had to say.
1. What’s your desert-island drink?
A dram of the now-crazily-expensive Bowmore 1964 Fino Cask is probably the best thing I’ve ever consumed. Endlessly complex, and something that you could go back to forever. But, given the nature of being on a desert island, it would probably have to be a classic Daiquiri, served blisteringly cold each time.
2. What’s the first drink you bought when you reached legal age?
Drinking in Britain as a youngster isn’t always classy – especially when I was growing up! – but I recall being proud of the first legal drink I bought with my own money. It was in the bar I worked in and it was an aged tequila (El Tesoro from memory) and a pint of Boddingtons (a mild, creamy beer). It was immensely satisfying.
3. FMK three cocktails: Negroni, Margarita, Manhattan?
Fuck Negroni, marry Manhattan, kill Margarita (there’s too many bad versions out there).
4. You’re on death row. What’s your final drink?
A gin Martini. Extra everything… extra vermouth, orange bitters, twist, and olive. Made by, and shared with, friends and family, served with some caviar, fried chicken, and ice cream.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
Bramble, Edinburgh, but with the old crew of Mike, Jas, and Harper added to the mix. Killer tunes, the best people, and a constant flow between intimacy and raucousness.
6. What’s the best and worst bottle on your shelf?
Best is a ’60s bottle of Springbank. I still can’t fathom how a mix of barley, water, and wood can be transformed into this sheer range and concentration of flavors. Tastes like beeswax and smoked flowers.
Worst is a mystery bottle of Cashew Feni brought back for me by a friend. I love discovering cultures through their food and drink. This is a total miss. Tastes like blindness.
7. What cocktail will you never order again?
A Sidecar. I’ve given up on imagining this can be a good drink. It’s just not.