So White Lyan – take us back, where did it all begin?
The idea was something I had many years ago, and the crux was borne from three main motivations – one was a geeky/professionalism angle to be able to take full ownership of our offering and create something we have complete control and influence over. The other was a return to what I saw at the heart of bartending, and to create a space that allowed us to ensure we were looking after people in the right way, and to be able to give them as much of our time as they wanted to make sure they were having the best time. Lastly, it was in response to the blindly-followed model of the cocktail bar that was wasteful, inefficient and unfocused on the things that mattered (in my eyes). But the idea evolved rapidly as Iain Griffiths joined, then the rest of the team. It’s continued to evolve and get better each day.
What is the ethical ethos behind the bar?
The mindless waste of a cocktail bar – wasteful of resources, ingredients and creativity. So much was thrown in the bin, and no-one was questioning the manner of sourcing ingredients, using them, and disposing of them. The idea of waste was alien to us in general as a result of our upbringing, so we’ve just tried to address this where possible. It’s important to us ethically, but it just makes business sense too! We don’t use ice or any fruit in the drinks at all, the menus are made of recycled plastic and the drinks costers from recycled plastic bags – we try to recycle & reuse as much as possible.
Your cocktail menu is innovate and original – can you tell us your favourite drink at the moment, what does it consist of?
We’ve always tried to do things differently, but there’s a grounding in the classics. I think given the time of year, the ‘Salad’ is currently my favourite. It’s certainly unusual (and in summery style, tastes like a salad!), but it has all the hallmarks of a gin fizz. However, it reassesses the heart of the cocktail and re-imagines it in a unique way.
As the artist of the cocktail world – where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere! But certainly from the people around – the team, peers, friends – and it can come from the smallest trigger. Sometimes it’s the manner in which people interact, it could be a certain memory something triggers, or it could be a concept around how to get people react to a certain idea. Although that’s vague, it’s reflective of the fact there’s no one source.
You have won several global awards for your endeavours – what would you say is your biggest achievement?
The team awards are always ones that mean the most to me as it’s such a group effort. Be that as best bar team or for best menu, but we focus on doing things are own way, and the innovator and most creative awards mean a lot. The awards tend to help a conversation with consumers, so things like the sustainability award help those conversations too.
We don’t use ice or any fruit in the drinks at all, the menus are made of recycled plastic and the drinks costers from recycled plastic bags – we try to recycle & reuse as much as possible. Ryan Chetiyawardana
In a nutshell can you describe the experience someone could look forward to when visiting your bar for the first time?
I think it’s always unexpected and exciting. We do things differently and the settings are unique in each bar – but with what could seem inaccessible in both, should very quickly feel warm and welcoming, and most importantly fun! We’re having fun doing what we love, so we hope people get to enjoy that too!
What is your top tip for those who want to be environmentally conscious when out on the town?
I think water bottles are a bad culprit, and when you’re not at home it’s easy to buy several across the course of the day. Buy one that’s sturdy plastic (light and strong) and doesn’t have a spout (very hard to clean properly!) and refill where you can. Every little helps, and reducing plastic bottles would be a huge change. They’re incredible inventions, and we need to respect that by holding on to them!
What is your must do Eco tip in general
Do the little things by habit – turn lights off, use ingredients completely, buy local and sensibly and reduce where possible. Don’t beat yourself up over being unable to do everything, but don’t be selfish by doing nothing.
What is next for you and your empire?
Lots! We have a huge love for the industry, so we’re trying to see where we can explore within the wider world of food and drink whilst staying true to our ethos
From Friday 23rd September the White Lyan is launching five ten week menus across the next year. Each of the ten week menus will feature twelve cocktails and focus on specific theme inspired from how people interact with the world and how this has shaped the way we consume and perceive food & drink. Alongside each menu a separate menu of ten classic White Lyan cocktails will accompany them aswell as the acclaimed retail line of cocktails.
The first of the five menus – Heaps Primal bro – starts today and focuses on primal urges and senses which have helped the human race and other creatures survive throughout history. This will touch on the desire to eat, sleep, play and runaway with each new drink representing an element of this.