The talented Mr Lyan

With 2018 shaping up to be the year of sustainability at Westbury, we look at the work of ‘mad botanist’ Ryan Chetiyawardana. Pioneer of zero-waste and sustainability in London's cocktail scene, 'Mr Lyan' has risen to the top of his game through an ethos of play and conscientiousness.

Mr Lyan as he calls himself, started his career in the hospitality industry at Birmingham College of Food, where he quickly became disenchanted with the lack of spontaneity and customer interaction associated with working in a kitchen. At this point a friend recommended bar tending as an alternative.

Throughout his academic studies, which included fine art and biology, he worked bars, taking inspiration from the science he was studying, which led him to work on flavour development in the laboratory at 69 Colebrooke Row, where he acquired a good deal of the knowledge on botany that would come to shape the Dandelyan concept. However, it was White Lyan that came first in 2013 in Hoxton; a bar concept that pushed the boundaries in its mixology but also through operating with no perishables – ie no ice, no citrus and no fresh fruit.

Every drink at White Lyan was handcrafted in-house using Ryan’s careful crafting of tinctures, cordials and distillates, all designed to wow the senses and impart a sense of fun. This venture earned him numerous prestigious accolades including Timeout’s Best Bar in London, Most Creative Bar, and in 2014 Tales of the Cocktail awarded him the Best New Bar in the World award and in 2015, he won Best Bar in the World.

Following the success of White Lyan, Ryan went on to open up his botanical-centred cocktail bar concept, Dandelyan, at South Bank’s Mondrian London hotel in the former Sea Containers House, where amid the opulence and luxury, the drinks menu changes annually and borders on the psychedelic in its range of innovative botanic-based concoctions.

This year’s Modern Life of Plants menu breaks down into Mint, Grape, Hops and Classics, driven by a political message that the world’s expanding population needs a conscientious industrialised system to feed it. The BC3 Negoni, for example, uses pollen, aged honey and propolis to exhibit the three phases of this ingredient, in its raw, processed and industrialised form. Hardly surprising that this venture was also awarded World’s Best Cocktail Bar in 2017, in addition to Best International Bar and Best International Hotel Bar.

Not one to sit on his laurels, Chetiyawardana has actually closed White Lyan and replaced it with a basement bar called Super Lyan, and above this very informal New York-esque bar, is the collaborative restaurant concept of Chetiyawardana and Doug McMaster, the creator of zero-waste restaurant, Silo. The collaboration is called Cub, and features experimental ingredients grown on site, and will no doubt keep pushing the boundaries into the weird and wonderful, all the while promoting and pioneering the sustainability ethos.

All images courtesy of Mr. Lyan. Visit mrlyan.com for more information on the ‘mad botanist’ and his latest work.