Kind of Mixology with Ryan Chetiyawardana

28 Jul 2015
2 min read
As London sweeps the board at ‘Tales of the Cocktail’s’ Spirited Awards, FOUR talks to winner of the International Bartender of the Year award, Ryan Chetiyawardana, about mixology, favourite cocktails from his infamous bars, the White Lyan and Dandelyan and what to look out for next…

Where did you grow up?

Birmingham, but Edinburgh was home for quite a while and for much of my formative years whilst at university.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

Probably many things at different points – music and the arts were a big part of my life growing up, then sciences then back to arts then sciences again… I think I was always trying to find a way to balance my interests into what is always billed as separate worlds. Bartending allowed me to do that and to forge together what I saw as very similar approaches.

Howdid you find your way into wine and spirits?

As with many, accidentally! I had a place at St Martins in London and after leaving school I wanted to do something practical around something I loved, so enrolled in the College of Food in Birmingham and started to train as a chef. I loved the practical side and learning the set-up but felt alienated by not interacting with those I was cooking for, so my best friend suggested the switch to the bar and I never looked back!

Where do you find inspiration for your drink recipes?

Really from everywhere. The team are a constant stimulus, but family – in particular my sister – and friends always bring new perspectives. The ability to travel and experience new ingredients certainly helps!

How do you feel about the success of this years British mixologists at the Spirited awards?

It’s absolutely amazing, but reflective of the quality of the British scene. In particular I think London is the most exciting city in the world right now, so it’s great to see this be recognised in such prestigious awards.

Name your FOUR favourite cocktails from your bar menu?

Two from each! The Jurassic Jungle – a tiki serve from the pine section – and the Crimson Waxwork – a wax-led boozy serve from the oak section – from Dandelyan are two I’m loving, and ones that reflect the concept so well. At White Lyan it’s the Brewed in Brooklyn and the Moby Dick Sazerac. I love whisky but both of these are super interesting and have elements that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the spirits world? What’s on your radar at the moment?

Gin is still booming but there’s some great development in the world of agave. Mezcal is still super hot, but some great new tequilas are coming around which is amazing to see.

What is your most indispensable cocktail ingredient?

Aside from the essentials, salt. An ingredient I’ve been recommending for the last 7 or 8 years upon advice from my mum. She was a pastry chef and taught me how it helps other flavours lift in a wonderful way!

What is another of your favourite tipples?

I’m still a sucker for a Gin Martini. Nothing is more perfect than sharing a small, crisp martini with a loved one before a good meal.

Find out more about Ryan here |