No one knows a bar better than those who work behind it. For “My Bar in 3 Drinks,” the people running the best bars around make and discuss three of their bar’s most representative cocktails.
Ryan Chetiyawardana is having quite the year. In January, the bartender and bar owner shuttered his highly acclaimed London cocktail bar Dandelyan, but not before replicating the award-winning concept (it snagged the top spot on the 2018 World’s 50 Best Bars list) at a pop-up at Washington, D.C., speakeasy The Gibson.
This year, Chetiyawardana, more widely known as Mr. Lyan, reimagined the bar, housed inside the Sea Containers hotel, as Lyaness, a sleek space where you can linger over boozy and brewed beverages and accompaniments during “Fancy Tea” or sip a Fizz made with manipulated pineapple. He’s also planning to launch Silver Lyan in D.C. by November, his first foray into the U.S.
And then there’s Super Lyan. Formerly located in the cellar of Cub restaurant in London’s Hoxton neighborhood, Chetiyawardana relocated it to the Kimpton De Witt hotel in Amsterdam, a city he fell in love with. “I was amazed with the energy ... and how the restaurants and bars were being led by a young new vanguard, and that was inspiring,” he says. It’s an all-day space serving coffee and stroopwafels in the morning and bitterballen, beer, wine and cocktails late into the evening. Designed by Jacu Strauss and his team at Lore Studio, its bold blue palate evokes a midcentury vibe with a garden, convivial “Living Room” and a bar whose stools and neon lighting are reminiscent of a 1950s soda shop.
“It focuses on the two aspects we loved most: the team’s ability to create incredible flavors and their way of making these unusual things accessible to people,” says Chetiyawardana. “So much had changed in the cocktail landscape, and we had positioned ourselves as pushing and challenging, so it was crucial that we changed up the venue to reflect this.”
Chetiyawardana adds: “The idea is to get people to collaborate with the team to create a cocktail that suits their palate and that particular setting.” These are three cocktails that capture the essence of Super Lyan.
1. Frosé Margarita
Patrón silver tequila, Belsazar rosé vermouth, Waldorf cordial, Peychaud’s bitters
“This is a version of a drink from my book “Good Together” that married the summer serves of a Frozen Margarita and Frosé and manages to work for both camps but also be greater than the sum of its parts,” says Chetiyawardana. “It has the zesty brightness of a Margarita—except we’ve used apple for the acidity so it’s much cleaner than the classic—and the fruity dryness of rosé vermouth to balance the drink. The Dutch tend to have drinks alongside savory bites, so we’ve used some celery and walnut to dry the drink out and give a savory undertone that links to the vegetal notes of the tequila. It’s complex while still being playful and fresh.”
2. Millionaire Shake
Soy milk, chocolate sorbet, pomegranate, Bols Corenwyn six-year-old genever (optional), curaçao (optional)
“Super Lyan is very open and inclusive—the cocktail equivalent of a pub—so we wanted to have great boozeless options and also things that suited dietary requirements,” says Chetiyawardana. “This shake does both; [it’s] complex and dry and without the dairy heaviness so it doesn’t feel like dessert. It is served in the Super Lyan Garden, is light and bright to suit the space and has a pleasing earthy dryness from the house-made pomegranate grenadine and house-made chocolate sorbet. The optional spike of Bols and curaçao gives an herbal balance if you want a lower-ABV-style cocktail.”
3. Moscow Mule
Ketel One vodka, turbo lime, ginger syrup, peach-habañero tincture, ginger ale
“We wanted to use the local vodka favorite but give it a lift to show that a good vodka drink should demonstrate the character of the vodka at its heart and not just be an alcoholic mix of flavors,” says Chetiyawardana. “Layering the ginger notes with fiery ginger syrup and candied ginger ale, we’re able to lift the cereal character of the Ketel One. And by using a blend of lime and a series of other acidulants, we’re able to keep it bright and zesty. To trail out the spice and give it length, we’ve used a peach and habañero tincture that gives it a fruitier life and keeps the flavors on your palate. While it’s a bright and clean highball, it has layers and remains complex until the finish.”