Cocktail bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana goes by Mr Lyan, which is arguably easier to say.
He opened his first bar, White Lyan, in London in 2013 as the first cocktail bar in the world to use no perishables; no fruit and even no ice.
It was an exploration in sustainability, with much lower waste and a use of pre-made cocktails and innovative ingredients. This focus on a ground-breaking approach remains in the evolution of White Lyan, Super Lyan, in Amsterdam Dandelyan, on the ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel in London and now the cocktail restaurant, Lyan Cub, in Hoxton Street, East London.
“I’m very fortunate that work is about making people happy! That’s a wonderful, and satisfying thing to be part of. It is also very varied and provides the opportunity to work with so many incredible people,” said Ryan, who grew up in a place where food and drink were the heart of the household.
Looking to develop this passion, he began his career training as a chef. As a chef he found himself yearning to get out of the kitchen to have a chat – as he loved the personal interaction he had with his friends whilst entertaining at home.
When doing a BA and MA at Edinburgh University, he quickly got tempted to step behind the bar instead.
Studying Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins as well as Biology and Philosophy at Edinburgh University, he found that the bar was perfect for creativity, entertaining and conversation. He also developed his acute palate, experimenting with ingredients, and tailoring his drinks to each person he met, what they were like, their mood and their interests.
“My inspiration comes from anywhere – sometimes a flavour, sometimes a memory, or often just an interesting connection. Travels, and seeing different perspectives are, of course, hugely inspiring,” said Ryan.
He added: “I love tropical flavours as they just seem super exotic and hedonistic. I like flavours that have a visceral connection with us as creatures.”
Tastiest Drink Tea!
Tastiest Snack Anchovies, unsalted butter, bread, red onion
Tastiest Restaurant Black Axe Mangal, London
Tastiest Experience Super fancy fruit in Japan
Taste of Happiness Time and comfort with the people and nature you really love