White Lyan. “A concept bar where all the drinks are pre-made.” Instant suspicion. Why? That’s Lazy. Sloppy. A scam.
A. Schantz was in town for the night and we decided to head east on a Sunday in search of food and weird bars. After some delicious Thai Curry, we pulled up a list of the weirdest/coolest cocktail bars we could find. East London.. being the pinnacle of ‘trendy whilst still weird’ happily obliged. At the end, on a gut instinct, we settled on White Lyan.
White Lyan. No perishables. No fruit. No brand. Every single drink made in house. Thousands of hours of experimentation behind every drink. Flavors like nothing I have ever tasted in a drink. “These bitters had to ferment for three weeks to get this flavor right.” “You will not taste anything like this at another bar on the planet.” He was right.
So the drinks and the concept were amazing, but the experience made this the best bar I have ever been to. Since it was a Sunday, the bartender had some time and probably spent a cumulative 30-40 minutes just chatting with us throughout the night. Every drink had a story, and we would ask him about some weird ingredient and he would launch into a 5-10 minute explanation of the tale and thinking that went into that drink’s creation. These guys were not bartenders.. They were chemistry nerds who happened to make drinks. Big difference.
“Naming a drink Maluma is our way of flipping off those ‘skinny girl vodka’, zero cal martini, sugar free, spirits that are popping up everywhere these days.
Everything about this drink makes you think it is sweet.. The ingredients, the smell, the glass, the colour.. and you drink it and you think it is sweet. It’s not. It’s bitter but your brain is overwhelmed by the illusion of sweetness and tricks you.” This detail is every single drink they sell^
“Evil Twins, is a nod to our ability through evolution and memory to know what’s poisonous to us, but that a lot of those poisonous things closely related to ingredients that are safe to ingest. Containing Mr Lyan Elderberry Rum, triple fig, peach and fennel tea and kernel bitters, you can certainly taste the rich fig and peach characters, as well as a strong almond note – a tip of the hat to the fact that bitter almonds contain cyanide.”
We had a drink called ‘Salad’ that, aside from containing salad.. actually just tasted like a salad. Amazing. What a time to be alive. Ditto with ‘Ocean’.
No.. I didn’t get a chance to try ‘Ribs’.
All this said, the founders have decided they have taken the concept as far as possible (and also won every drink/bar/bartender award known to man). So they are shutting down in a year. Until that time they decided to blow the whole thing up and come out with five different menus that will last a month or so each.. Once again every drink has a massive backstory.
The themes for the five menus are: Heaps Primal Bro; Waste Not, Want Not, Live Lots; Dear Darwin; Single Origin and Flavour is Dead, Long Live Flavour.
Best part.. Bartender gave me a list of most interesting places in London. New bucket list.