Lyaness, the cocktail bar at Sea Containers had some big boots to fill.
Its predecessor, Dandelyan, was named The Best Bar in the World – so it came as a surprise when the man behind it, Ryan Chetiyawardana announced he’d be closing it and replacing it with a new bar and a new concept… Lyaness.
How does it shape up? What should you expect?
Time to dive in.
Lyaness: First Impressions
Nothing says high-end cocktail bar like a plush interior, redolent of the sitting rooms of days past where guests were entertained, alcohol sloshed aplenty and gossip brewed like good tea. Anyone who ever visited Dandelyan will know that it wasn’t too shabby on the interiors fronts, and nor is Lyaness either.
Cerulean blue velveteen banquettes, brass tables and dove greys ooze an aura of money with comfort offset by touches of marble and low-key sixties patterns. Designer Jacu Stauss also designed Dandelyan but the mood is more playful than the Lyaness predecessor.
It’s the kind of place that Don Draper would drink in – well, before he got hit with the bad suits and questionable shoes in the 70s.
The Lyaness Cocktail Menu
So, first impressions are good. But here in London, we know that it takes a lot more than a pretty interior to make a great cocktail bar. So the million dollar question is how are the drinks?
In one word? Impressive.
Chetiyawardana, who’s often nicknamed Mr Lyan is one of the world’s most awarded bartenders – if you thought Dandelyan was some kind of a fluke, think again. This is a man who knows his way around every conceivable flavour that goes into a cocktail, plus a few more that you hadn’t even thought possible.
Normally I hate a concept menu, anything that takes you longer to work out how and what to order than it would to drink the cocktail is, IMHO, a massive fail.
While Lyaness’ cocktail list could be described as a concept menu – the concept is pretty simple. The 21 drinks are organised by seven key ingredients – King Monkey Nut, Purple Pineapple, Infinite Banana, ONYX, Aromatised Milk Wine, Old Fashioned Whisky and Ultra Raspberry.
Some you’ll recognise, others you won’t – that’s fine – the very descriptive menu should give you an idea of what to expect.
One of my favourite finds on the cocktail menu is the rather clever drinks map, which plots each cocktail on a chart of day to night, light to rich to help you choose your perfect tipple. It feels so obvious an inclusion, but the fact that I’m yet to see it on another menu elsewhere suggests it’s yet another mark of Chetiyawardana’s understated genius.
If that fails the ridiculously knowledgeable team will pick up the mantle, talking you through the cocktails to help you take your pick. After all that, if you still don’t find quite the drink you are looking for, they will make one up based around your preferences – simple.
Safe to say, I’ve never gotten as far as ordering off-menu. I’ve visited Lyaness a few times and the biggest challenge is choosing which of the drinks to order.
The White Sblagiato – a refreshingly light drink is a winning combination of Tanqueray Gin, purple pineapple, cocchi americano and champagne – can’t help but please. The purple pineapple adds a touch of the tropical but steers the cocktail well away from the slightly dodgy territory held by mai tais and drinks of that ilk.
Looking for something a little richer? The Air Mail – made up of lemon cacao butter, Plymouth gin, king monkey nut, cognac and bubbles – is rich and smooth, the perfect segue into the evening.
Other winners include the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club – again with the King Monkey Nut (which, in case you were wondering, is like turbo-charged peanut liqueur with a touch of coriander), this time paired with Bacardi Carta Blanca, orange, fino, lime and 8 year old oak. It’s mildly fruity, very zesty and a lot of fun to drink as Mr Lyan’s cocktails invariably all are.
Final Thoughts: Is Lyaness Worth the Hype?
Yes. Lyaness is certainly worth the hype.
Chetiyawardana has done it again – in razing his previous world-class cocktail bar to the ground, he’s made way for a new and equally exciting bar to rise from its ashes. Lyaness is a must-visit for anyone in love with the humble cocktail.
Lyaness: Practical Information and Map
Address: Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
Telephone: 020 3747 1063
Mon – Weds 4pm – 1am, Thurs to Sat 12pm – 2am, Sun 12pm – 12.30am.
Thurs – Sun 12pm – 5pm (last sitting at 3.30pm).
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