Cheers To Mr Lyan Studio
Extra special experiences are Mr Lyan Studio’s forte, inspiring people everywhere to drink better. With an array of must-visit bars across Europe, two books, a MasterClass series and products made in collaboration with friends - this Hoxton-based creative agency have certainly made their mark on the hospitality industry… and they’re not stopping there…
Leaving a lasting impression in our Mayfair flagship boutique, the innovators have created a bespoke cocktail menu exclusive to our beloved Bar No. 39 which we’ve brought back for another year. This festive season, you and yours can celebrate over a unique selection of imaginative takes on classic tipples that you won’t find anywhere else.
To celebrate the relaunch of Bar No. 39, we caught up with one of the masterminds behind Mr Lyan Studio, Ryan Chetiyawardana over a cocktail (or four).
Hi Ryan! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a bartender who’s been working across all aspects of the food and drink world for over two decades.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Mr Lyan Studio, please explain who you are and what you do.
At Mr Lyan Studio, we apply the same creative approach to flavour creation and storytelling that we employ in the venues, but explore how we can utilise this to bring to life different experiences in a host of different applications, spaces and settings. Our focus is on pushing the boundaries around food and drink - notably through collaborating with other specialists and industries - whilst exploring how we can create positive impact.
What is the Mr Lyan Studio mission? And how do you go about achieving it?
We always wanted to explore the future of ideas such as luxury, sustainability and thrills. With the collaborations we get to do with Mr Lyan Studio, we get to explore new places to develop these ideas through the medium of food and storytelling. We do this by exploring a question or problem, then trying to find easy-to-connect-with dishes, drinks and experiences that help people to think on the idea without it being too heavy-handed. It’s all about fitting the right output to the audience and setting.
We’ve been able to explore such a diverse range of projects by having the best team. This has only been possible as we’ve looked to attract and align people who are looking to do things differently, and to give them the room and opportunity to grow, explore and take ownership of their work. We have an incredibly wide range of talents and backgrounds within the team, but everyone is aligned by the idea of accessible innovation, and doing things that we think are important, fun and do good.
The Yellow Room 1957 An American Defining English Style - Nancy Lancaster
A nod to Nancy’s roots, mixed with a hint of popcorn and classic English Country garden flavours to create a bright and refreshing, vivid yellow highball.
What is the concept and narrative behind Mr Lyan Studio’s take on Bar No. 39?
We loved how much history, and how many amazing stories had flown through Browns’ flagship boutique - notably the incredible influences led by iconic female figures. We wanted to tell these stories and create an interactive experience that reflected the values of Browns.
How did you bring this story to life within the Immersive Room?
We explored four stories across the last decades that felt rich and impactful. The idea was to have something that still had a sense of bespoke luxury. Working with the Browns and Tom Dixon teams we were able to create something that felt unique and layered for guests to experience.
Arctic 75 1970 Mrs B. The Tastemaker - Joan Burstein
Looking to the party atmosphere of the ‘70s, we combine the heady celebration of champagne with the nostalgic icons of Arctic Roll and tinned pineapple, making an effervescent and playful tipple.
The cocktail menu is inspired by four female icons in the Browns world - Joan Burstein, Nancy Lancaster, Jil Sander and Molly Goddard. How do the cocktail recipes reflect inspirations drawn from each of these women?
We’ve aimed to reflect the style, emotion and era of each of the women. Taking cues from notable works, events and locations to create some drinks that embody the life and times of each.
Which is your personal tipple of choice on the menu?
The Sander Old Fashioned. Not only does it challenge the notion of a whisky cocktail, it showcases the power of minimalism to create a confident and considered display that unfolds more as you take your time and pay attention to the details.
Sander Old Fashioned 1986 The Queen of Minimalism - Jil Sander
In minimalistic Jil Sander style, we’re distilling down a reference to her German heritage into a clean-cut, boozy sipper.
How did you get to where you are today?
Like most in the food and drink world, I fell into it having found it allowed me to explore my passions. I started working in drinks after training to be a chef, and whilst studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Then I studied Biology at the University of Edinburgh, before doing a Masters in Philosophy. All of these interests definitely get folded into our work!
What’s a career highlight for you so far? Something you're most proud of?
It’s so hard to pick out one highlight as some resonate for different reasons! Being able to help usher sustainability into a public discussion; hosting some parties that still get referenced around the world; winning World’s Best Bar (three times!); seeing team members past and present create some actual magic… These are all incredible memories. But I think some of the most satisfying moments come from hearing feedback from guests who’ve said they’ve had some of the best nights, or most important moments enabled through our work.
Frilled Daisy 2015 Frill Seeker - Molly Goddard
A short and zesty riff on a Cosmopolitan to get the party started. Homemade, non-alcoholic cranberry vermouth and citrus oils are all topped with a frilled dianthus flower garnish, mirroring Molly’s feminine designs and fabrics.
In your eyes, how does the hospitality industry collide with the luxury fashion industry?
Very closely! Both explore the idea of excitement and connection, they just manifest through different mediums. The ideas of deliciousness, excitement and beauty are all related - they require passion, understanding and care, as well as a desire to keep evolving. Each industry requires a sense of connection, and they inevitably build on what came before them. In a more practical sense, there’s also the way they take intangible ideas and manifest them in a physical sense that people can touch and engage with.
What’s an interesting fact about you that people may be surprised to learn?
Despite my Sri Lankan heritage, I can’t handle spicy food at all.
What’s your idea of a perfect evening out?
Drinks with my girlfriend Annabelle before a big meal with friends and family where we can order the whole menu. In a perfect world, art, nature or music factor into the evening too!
Where’s a hidden gem in London (aside from Bar No. 39 of course!)?
Gordon’s Wine Bar is always a gem to take people to when they’re visiting.
What are you most excited about this holiday season?
Seeing friends and family after a long hiatus.
What’s on the top of your gift wish list this year?
There’s a selection of whiskies that have come out recently that would be lovely gifts to receive (I’ve been good as gold this year, promise!).
If you’ve been good as gold this year (or not!), visit No. 39 and we’ll treat you to a complimentary cocktail on us. (Non-alcoholic versions of each cocktail are available and recipes can be tailored to include your favourite liquors.) Your own private bar is hidden in the Immersive Room on the second floor of Browns Brook Street for a limited time only.
Interview by Sophy Davis Russell
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