He explains his craft as “helping people drink better”.
What he certainly doesn’t do is run-of-the-mill cocktails or run-of-the-mill bars. He became famous for his house-made spirits, cordials and pre-mixed cocktails at his original Hoxton bar White Lyan. It was devoid of branded bottles, ice, citrus and other perishables, revolutionising the cocktail industry in the capital. White Lyan closed earlier this year to make way for Super Lyan, serving “Bitchin’ Classics” in the basement, and the recently launched Cub upstairs – a new and unique luxury drinks-led dining experience. He’s also taken his wizardry to the Mondrian London with Dandelyan and its botany-inspired cocktail menu, where he’s raked in even more international plaudits.
His inspiration comes from a background in both arts and sciences (he’s studied Fine Arts, Biology and Philosophy), as well as his time spent in kitchens and bars. He uses drinks as a way to bring those two worlds together – and he’s not stopping there. Cue his latest venture Cub; a bar-restaurant hybrid above Super Lyan, which offers surprising courses such as compost smoked carrot, buffalo milk curd and whey glaze with buttered Mr Lyan gin, precipitations of lapsang tannins, ambergris and cider.
Although many plaudits have come his way, Mr Lyan is quick to stress that it’s very much a team game, and his achievements are his team’s achievements. The people that he works with, from artists and musicians to mathematicians and designers, only underscores the fact that Mr Lyan is no ordinary bartender.
“We’ve always sat on the boundaries and the fringes of the industry as maybe the weirdos,” he tells us. “So it’s nice to be able to get recognised, that people see that as something special, as well as something that’s a little interesting.”