Thursday, July 23, 2015

At just 31 years old, Ryan
Chetiyawardana, a. k. a. Mr. Lyan, has gained international acclaim for his
trailblazing bar White Lyan—the world's first bar with no
perishables—his book, Good Things to Drink with Friends, and his bottled
cocktails. As if that wasn't enough, he just took home two big awards from
the Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards. His newest venture, Dandelyan,
inside the Mondrian London at Sea Containers, won the title of Best New
International Cocktail Bar and Mr. Lyan himself was named International
Bartender of the Year. We caught up with the globe-trotting cocktail
impresario to get the scoop on his menu inspiration, his go-to spots in London
and where he's off to next. How did you approach the task of creating a
cocktail menu for Dandelyan? The initial menu was a good 18 months of
research, but the concept came partly from Tom Dixon's vision of the
building and the theme of trans-Atlanticism. We focused on botanists who were
often the first on journeys during the golden age of travel and we built
around their natural curiosity. It allowed me to refresh my biology
background.   The initial menu looked at the 'designations' of
ingredients, whilst the second chapter looks at the fundamental
interconnectedness of our ingredients.   Do
your travels inspire your cocktail recipes? Absolutely! I always
think food and drink is the best window into a culture and I love to be able
to experience new things through this. Often it might be a flavor or
ingredient, or other times it might be a ritual or occasion, but seeing new
places and meeting new people always stimulates creativity.   When
you're not at your own bars, what are your go-to spots in London for a great
drink? I love some of the hotel bars here—the Savoy, the Connaught, the
Artesian—as we do them better than anywhere else in the world and I love
visiting them for an incredible and grand experience. I also love the bars in
East London as they bring an amazing warmth and atmosphere. Happiness Forgets
and Satan's Whiskers do excellent classic cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere
and Sager + Wilde remains one of my favorite spots to grab a delicious glass
of something.   How would you describe the changes in London's
cocktail bar scene in the past few years? It's certainly lost its
bravado—people are creating drinks because they love them and have lost the
need to shout about their passion—which reached some unfortunately arrogant
points previously. That's all but passed and people are happy to create what
they love and there's an interested audience excited to experience it.
Where else have you encountered an exciting bar scene?  Athens blew me
away—great people and wonderful bars. Paris is gaining in strength and of
course Sydney and Melbourne are home to some of the most talented bartenders
and incredible bars in the world.   What are your top 3 favorite
cocktail bars in the world? Bramble in Edinburgh definitely takes top spot
despite the obvious bias (I worked there years ago), but it remains relevant,
unrivalled and most importantly it's fun! A simple combination of great
people, amazing cocktails and killer tunes. Baxter Inn, Sydney. I love
whisky so it's easy to think this bar made the list for its extensive
collection, but it's the willingness to include their guests that makes the
bar so worth seeking out. Great drinks from some of the world's leading
bartenders—served with passion of course—but an unpretentious and fun
space. The Clumsies, Athens. I was invited out to talk with the team here
and was blown away. Great attention to detail, an embrace of local products
and a space that changes throughout the day.   What's your go-to
cocktail? Whisky and soda and when I need something richer, a Manhattan. I
drink to mood and setting though, so I like to be given recommendations!
What's the next trip on your agenda that you're really excited about? I'm
always excited to be back in Scotland, but I'm visiting the bodegas of Hidalgo
la Gitana in Sanlúcar de Barrameda soon; I've been obsessed with sherry for
years and the chance to see how wonderful manzanilla is made is very exciting!
More good reads from T+L:
• And the World's Best Bar Is…
• These Cocktails Aren't Just Weird, They're Actually Surreal
• Best Places to Travel in 2015 Did you enjoy
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We caught up with Ryan Chetiyawardana, just named International
Bartender of the Year, to talk cocktail inspiration, London's best bars, and
his upcoming trip to Spain.

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