As the prohibition bar trend begins to recede, cocktail purveyors look for new ideas to tempt customers. White Lyan is certainly unlike any other bar I’ve visited… award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana has created a bar which does not stock nor use perishable ingredients, omits ice and avoids all branded products. For his first solo venture he has challenged himself to a tricky task of concocting brilliant cocktails without any of the usual components.
The drinks are thoughtful and clever, most of the hard labour is done before the doors open… bottles of refined and rebuilt spirits sit scientifically in the fridges behind the bar. It is experimental but understated mixology, and it is certainly a lot calmer behind the bar without all the ice crushing and lemon zesting. When it comes to substituting the usual elements of ice, sugar, egg white and citrus, Ryan has an answer: a fragrance atomiser which adds zing to some recipes and a small electrical mixer used as a thickener to recipes that need it. There were moments when I thought, wow these cocktails are great, but wouldn’t they taste even better with the forbidden fruits.
The no frills, simple venue has retained many of the previous pub’s features, the focus is on the quality of drinks rather than a fancy interior. It is a notion I appreciated and understood. The price point is noticeably more reasonable than the competitors: cocktails are £6-9 each. The Moby Dick Sazarac is already a firm favourite made with rye, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe-soaked rice paper. It is a tasty and exceptionally well balanced drink; I found the floating particles of ambergris (sperm whale secretion) rather distracting… but apparently it is crucial for adding texture and body. The Lyan Club Cocktail was rather more delicate – a lovely combination of Mr Lyan Gin, turmeric and red apple shrub, and soda. Off menu we tried various other wonderful concoctions, and I can recommend the Gimletto, Shurbo Tandy and the White Lyan take on a Whisky Sour.
Located in the less trendy end of Hoxton, you have to look hard to find White Lyan. I’ll let you decide whether Ryan’s creations are crazy, cool or clever; one thing’s for sure… everyone is talking about this new cocktail concept bar in London and I think it deserves the hype.
More information here: whitelyan.com