The Lyan king: how Ryan Chetiyawardana's new bar Lyaness is reinventing cocktails

By Michelle Johnson | 30 Oct 2019 | Indulge

Lyaness at Sea Containers London debuted in the World's 50 Best Bars list after just six months

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Ryan Chetiyawardana never repeats himself. Known as Mr Lyan, Chetiyawardana's multi award-winning cocktail bars have never failed to impress his affluent punters and challenge the norm, from his 2013 debut White Lyan – the first cocktail bar in the world to use no perishables, fruit or ice – to Super Lyan, Dandelyan, and his restaurant, Cub. But his newest venture, Lyaness, invites his guests to change the way they think about ingredients altogether. 

Located in Sea Containers London, at first glance Lyaness is an elegant hotel bar: art deco décor presented in soft blue tones and sumptuous furnishing. But it's upon opening the menu that guests discover something very different to Chetiyawardana's previous bars. 

"There’s no easy way to describe Lyaness, and that’s what excites me," he tells Tempus at an exclusive preview of the bar's new menu – it's first change since it initially opened in March. "It’s our most cutting-edge concept, and the approach – to encourage our guests to go off-menu – was very new to the whole team. We wanted to be scared and for it to feel challenging. We wanted to go back to being a bit weird," he laughs.

The menu is based around seven core ingredients created by Lyaness R&D, each of which is partnered with 'suggested serves'. Remaining favourites include Infinite Banana, Purple Pineapple and Onyx, a kombucha-like Empirical Spirits blend that Chetiyawardana describes as the "love child of tequila and sake". The menu's four new ingredients are Lyaness Tea-mooth, an alcoholic vermouth made entirely from tea; Vegan Honey, made from replicating the honey-making process to create a light golden honey; Golden Levain, a rich sourdough syrup mixed with miso and sake kasu that captures yeast's unifying flavour across champagne, bread, pastry and beer, and; Peach Emoji, a blend of all parts of the peach, from roasted and steeped stones, macerated flesh, and the rest lacto-fermented. >>

Related: Chef Jack Blumenthal shares why he’s taking his guests into the kitchen

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"I'm super proud of the team. We have created some very special ingredients," he says. "Everything we're doing is about telling stories – the sources and history of our cocktails and ingredients. Creating a cocktail is about nuances, so having our ingredients means we can offer something unexpected. And because of the complexity of our ingredients, we operate like a kitchen; the prep takes hours. We can do 1,000 cocktails in a night and 90% of them use at least one of these ingredients."

Chetiyawardana says he has seen a trend in guests ordering from the menu, and then getting into the spirit and creating their own variants. 

"Most people try from the menu and then go off menu," he says. "Our team is brilliant at making our guests at ease with that idea and creating really spectacular cocktails for them.

"We want to surprise people with our flavour profiles, even in the suggested serves. So, for example, you wouldn't usually have tea in a Bellini or Negroni, but at Lyaness we can have fun with flavours."

And whether you stay on menu with the creamy, clear Onyx-based Grasshopper, pure-vegan Tatie Milk Punch with 'honey', or Negroni with a hint of Tea-mooth, or are inspired to mix and match ingredients to create your own, Lyaness guarantees flavours that leap from the page. 

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