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Thursday, 10 October 2013

White Lyan, Hoxton

Hoxton Market is a gritty strip that, 15 minutes hence, will inevitably host Byron, SpaceNK and Little Waitrose. The catalyst for its poncification may prove to be the arrival of White Lyan, a liquid lounge anybody remotely interested in the art of the cocktail will beat a path to, as sure as 85% of Ireland legs it  to Lourdes (or is pushed there in a chair, that is, as I witnessed on my recent reccie). The cure-all waters dispensed at this shrine are courtesy of Ryan Chetiyawardana, something of a saint in the spirits world. After stints at Bramble in Edinburgh, Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop in London, this award-winning cocktail barman, and consultant to numerous high-end clients, has opened his own place with fellow ex-Brambler Iain Griffiths - a chap who has come a long way from the sheep-shearer/shagger bars of his native Australian Outback. Replacing what was until recently the old Hoxton White Horse pub, White Lyan's interior is all Bauhaus black no-nonsense minimalism, putting the focus on its owners' craft. 'We've done away with ice and lemon' (or words to that effect) says Griffiths reaching for one of various small batch pre-mixes, hidden from view, in stark temperature controlled cabinets. No stirring, no shaking and, it goes without saying, definitely no flairing: the ethos here is closer to the intellectual approach of Tony Conigliaro, at whose 69 Colebrooke Row temple Ryan also once served. Reasonably priced drinks - such as  the house old fashioned (using scotch from a bottle whose interior has been pre-coated with layered beeswax), and 'white Guinness' (whisky, coconut, almond and ash from a syphon) are, in terms of content, unimpeachable. So why am I not gushing about this gaff like a girl giddy on gimlets? Call me old fashioned, but I want my old fashioned bespoke-made to order. As a piece of theatre, a pre-mixed pour - current industry in-thing or not - can't provide the frisson of excitement watching a sazerac created from scratch provides. White Lyan's pre-batched Moby Dick sazerac - the name refers to the spot of ambergris it contains - is a well-balanced kick ass beast - its garnish, limp. A rice paper strip float turned aqua from absinthe dripped onto it clings to the wall of a rocks glass like loo roll stuck to a toilet bowl. Cue flashback to  nightmarish past humiliation: the time two spiteful, deeply uncool school prefects - insanely jealous of my innate metrosexyfabulousness - jumped me in the bogs, washing out my immaculate Bryan Ferry brilliantined black quiff in one of the stinky pit's Armitage Shanks porcelain pans. My glittering career would go on to include styling Roxy Music for NME but one of my assailants, karma being karma, ended up a plumber, minted but up to his elbows in shite, I hear.  

153 Hoxton Street N1 6PJ 3011 1153 http://whitelyan.com