Zoe Fryday explores Lyaness, Ryan Chetiyawardana’s new bar at Sea Containers London. Photography by James McDonald
Last year we waved goodbye to Dandelyan, the exquisitely fresh, forward-thinking cocktail establishment from renowned mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan). Just days before winning the coveted title of World’s Best Bar at The World’s 50 Best Bars 2018 awards ceremony, Ryan unexpectedly announced his plans to close the venue and repurpose its site at Sea Containers London. The highly anticipated moment of unveiling is now here. Out of the ashes walks Lyaness – the evolution of Dandelyan’s legacy, which is heading up the pride for Team Lyan.
The super stylish hotel bar, located on London’s dynamic South Bank, boasts gorgeous views of the River Thames. Hailing a new era, the delightfully reimagined interior, led by Lore Studios, features an inviting pastel colour palette of pale blues and soft greys, accentuated by glamourous 1920s and 70s retro, custom-made furniture, including stunning bronze mirrored tables and deep-tufted electric blue banquettes. A tribute to its predecessor, the iconic sweeping green marble bar continues to make a opulent statement, stocked with a refined, elegant selection of spirits and ingredients to pique guests’ fancy. Lyaness’ skilled bartenders radiate charm, and the atmosphere is warm, welcoming and sociable.
Team Lyan is nothing if not experimental. They are progressively exploring modern cocktail botany, crafting flavoursome tipples which embody ground-breaking methods and an ethos of sustainability. It’s all about taking consumers on a journey and creating something that is weird, wonderful and delicious. At Lyaness, tradition is thrown out the window. Instead of providing customers with a classic drinks list, the daring menu is designed around seven core ingredients, which have been manipulated into unfamiliar and exciting forms. “We really want to create a sense of inclusiveness for our guests,” explains Lyaness’ general manager James Wheeler. “The idea around the menu and the new style of service is that the guest is really involved in the process. We want to push boundaries with our approach to ingredients and drinks but at the same time want to deliver it in an accessible manner.”
There are 21 cocktails in total, spanning seven ingredients: Infinite Banana, Purple Pineapple, King Monkey Nut, Onyx, Aromatised Milk Wine, Old Fashioned Whisky and Ultra Raspberry. Three serve suggestions sit within each grouping, ranging from light to rich and navigating across different times of the day. The experience begins with Infinite Banana, an alternative to the ‘fake’ banana taste, created through a range of techniques, from parallel fermentation to precision use of different parts of everyday bananas. The Double Painkiller cocktail presents a botanically-led take on a tiki staple, combining Bombay Sapphire gin, Bacardí Cuatro, Infinite Banana, toasted coconut, lemon and orange, whereas the aromatic and herbal Tropical Martinez blends the banana syrup with Ketel One vodka, Martini Rubino, beach and beetroot. Making up the trio is the Cavendish Americano, a deeper take on the traditional bittersweet pre-dinner drink, mixing Patrón Reposado tequila, Aecorn sweet aperitif, Infinite Banana and Ceylon Arrack.
Further on in the drinks list, guests can discover all things Purple Pineapple. Often heralded as the ‘Queen of Fruits’, pineapple is established as a symbol of hospitality and exotic decadence. However, according to the Lyaness team, in recent years it has become “somewhat mundane”. In order to restore its glamour and complexity, the ingredient has been deconstructed, stretched, manipulated and massaged. “So far, to our surprise, the White Spagliato, which uses the Purple Pineapple ingredient has been the best seller,” states James. “It’s a lovely light Spritz-style drink with our pineapple syrup, Tanqueray gin, Cocchi Americano and champagne.” Additional highlights include Hiya Treacle, a blend of Havana Seleccion de Maestros, Lyaness’ unique Aromatised Milk Wine, sandalwood and ling honey, and Queenie Harvard, a rich, stirred take on the Manhattan. Sitting within the last section of the menu – Ultra Raspberry – this concoction offers a comforting combination of Martell VSOP & Cordon Bleu cognacs, chestnut, Ultra Raspberry, Aecorn sweet aperitif and Dubonnet. A number of serves can be recreated as ‘boozless options’, while guests are also encouraged to create their own personalised cocktail with the help of the Lyaness team, who are on hand with all the guidance you need.
Drink in hand, patrons gaze out across the water, feeling stimulated yet content. An amiable post-work buzz kicks in as the evening draws close, and the DJ begins to play, greeting the weekend. Mirroring the cocktail menu, Lyaness’ laidback ambience creates a beautiful sense of transition. To enrich their stay, guests can tuck into a tasty selection of bar bites. Top picks include ceviche sea bream tacos with coriander salsa, moreish buttermilk fried chicken sliders and Cornish handpicked crab with avocado and toast. All food is made in the Sea Containers restaurant kitchen, which always means that something more substantial is available just on the other side of the hotel lobby.
James explains that right now the focus is on making Lyaness a great venue for consumers to relish. “We want to ensure that our guests are able to enjoy themselves wholeheartedly, that we make delicious drinks and of course continue to have conversations that are relevant and important within our industry. We are also starting to work on some really exciting collaborations for later this year. The reaction to Lyaness has been totally overwhelming so far and it’s getting busier and busier each week. The guest feedback has been brilliant. We really appreciate all of the love!”
Lyaness, Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PD
Behind the scenes
Interior design: Lore Studios
Bar fit-out: CCE Group
Furniture: Warren Platner
Glassware: Riedel, Schott Zwiesel and Luigi Bormioli