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White Lyan

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153 - 155 Hoxton Street, London, UK

RYAN CHETIYAWARDANA and his partner Ian Griffith do not merely follow what has been done before. At the pair’s Hoxton hideaway, White Lyan, there is no citrus and no ice - and drinks are pre-mixed. For a cocktail bar that’s pretty much heresy, but Chetiyawardana says White Lyan is not about providing the answer but asking the question.  Few who have visited hold firm to their outrage.

This is a bar for customers, not bartenders. Housed in two double-door refrigerators and three freezers are 500 bottles of pre-prepared cocktails. With a pull of a door, a grab of a glass and a meeting of the two, the customer is served.

"That was easy," is what most say, but actually it wasn’t. At White Lyan the graft and craft happens before the night’s funk/hip-hop soundtrack plays its first accentuated beat. That way bartenders can get geeky without pushing their fascinations on to unsuspecting civilians.

But, should you have the urge to know, drinks are prepared according to mise en place. Each ingredient is weighed and 100s of permutations of each cocktail have been explored, with acids, temperature, minerality, vessel thickness just some of the variables. With this forensic approach, it’s not surprising the bar has a range of own-sourced spirits.

No-citrus no-ice challenges what a bartender holds dear. But, to a pioneer, any sacrilege along the way is collateral damage.