White Lyan: A New Wave of Guzzling
Having indulged in a hearty feast at The Clove Club, we are in need of a few strong drinks. White Lyan is the only place we're going, well hoping to go, following our wild goose chase around Hoxton. When we do find it, we appreciate it all the more as a result, plus it's a welcome respite from this dark December night.
You won't find brands or ice in this place; there's not a berry or lime wheel in sight, either. White Lyan teaches us a new way to booze, and it's something I am quite receptive to. The menu, pulled from a roll on the wall, is broken into highballs, signatures, classics, shots, syphons and a family-style sharer. The team spends all day meticulously pre-batching concoctions, so all they have to do in the evening is open the bottles and engage with customers. Who needs ice when you have distillates and cordials to do the job? Even White Lyan's water has signature mineral content so that every bottle is the same.
We perch at the bar and are soon chatting with the charming Iain Griffiths, whose passion for this project is infectious. Our classics, Moby Dick Sazerac and Layered Negroni, take circa 12 seconds to make, so it's clear that this new concept is as lethal as it is clever; we will end up drinking twice as much. The price point is also impressive, but again, we spend more because we drink more! The Sazerac hits you like a smack in the face from a Humpback's tail, I'm blaming the absinthe rice paper, but not counting out the ambergris either, which is a substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. Natch. It is my kind of sipper though, sipper being key because you wouldn't be knocking this one back. Embracing this 'no-waits' concept, Darty fires in a Painted Presidente which pops thanks to a lick of pomegranate 'paint' on the glass. It's the Negroni which turns out to be my top tipple of the evening. Sometimes you just can't beat the classics, sperm whale production permitting.
The signatures are worth writing home about, notably the Bone Dry Martini, aptly described on the menu as Mr Lyan Vodka and bone; which turns out to be dissolved chicken bones, and the result is first class. A savoury aftertaste is fresh and delicate, nothing overbearing. As a non-vodka drinker, I am surprised by how much a fan I am. Other signature stars are the gin and turmeric laced Lyan Club Cocktail and tequila teaser Lada Lada, which, if I have another, will probably result in me getting onto the bar and doing something ridiculous. Desipite our lunch of champions, some nibbles are required to soak up some of the hard stuff; sweet n' salty dipping crisps sound innocent enough, but we should've known. Rigid crisps come with lashings of gooey Nutella dip with flecks of rock salt; anything but innocent.
Highballs are like juice you'd have had in your lunchbox compared to what we've been quaffing, but the two Mr Lyan Gin numbers we nail, Yiddish Bubbles and East End Rickey, are rightfully refreshing. It's just a bit of an anti climax compared to the others, that said, at £6 a pop, they're cracking value. Darty is lured by the sound of a syphon which means a White Guinness is on the cards; a heady blend of Mr Lyan whisky, coconut, almond and ash which I don't know how he handled after the Nutella fest just moments earlier.
Full of love for Iain for keeping us well watered for a few hours, we peel ourselves off the bar to give other Hoxton revellers a piece of the action. Unsurprisingly, our highly entertaining train journey home flies by.
Five Very Kerri things about White Lyan
- No waits
- Very friendly prices
- Engaging team
- Perching at the Bar
- Cocktails that pack a punch