Multi-award-winning bartender Mr Lyan, real name Ryan Chetiyawardana, opened his first bar, White Lyan in London, in 2013. He set out to show that a successful cocktail bar could be created with an alternative approach and unconventional ideas; White Lyan had a focus on sustainability, with lower waste, lower prices and the use of pre-made cocktails and innovative ingredients. It was a spectacular success and the popularity of this first venue made more ‘Lyan bars’ inevitable; the Lyan portfolio now includes cocktail hotspots in Washington DC and Amsterdam, as well as London.
Fresh from celebrating 10 years in business by recreating four of his old bars in guest rooms at Sea Containers London (the permanent home of his Lyaness bar), Chetiyawardana joins host David Kermode for episode 131 of The Drinking Hour to talk about the ethos behind his bars and the drinks served in them. The discussion includes Chetiyawardana’s background and his route into the industry, escaping cocktail snobbery, why his approach to business sometimes involves closing bars that are profitable and what’s next for the Lyan empire.