Please note, White Lyan has now closed. New bar Super Lyan has opened in the basement. Time Out Food & Drink Editors, July 2017.
The headlines you’ll read about this Hoxton cocktail bar will proclaim that it doesn’t use ice. That shows how extraordinary it actually is to dispense altogether with such a time-honoured way of chilling drinks, but it’s not even the most exciting thing about White Lyan.
It was the first solo venue from single-minded cocktailian Ryan Chetiyawardana (see Dandelyan too), and not only has he chucked out the frozen water, he also employs no citrus, sugar, fruit or other perishables, and next to no branded products. You can’t order off menu, and there’s only one of each colour of wine and one lager.
The former White Horse pub in the untrendy bit of Hoxton doesn’t give much away from the outside, but once inside it’s clear this is no standard operation. It’s all-black with a minimalist New York ’80s sort of look about it. Instead of a back bar stacked with spirits there are big fridges holding the pre-made products of hours of labour by Ryan and his team – most of the hard work here is done before opening. Spirits are especially made to order, or refined and ‘rebuilt’ using filtered water and distillations.
All this, unsurprisingly, results in some pretty unusual drinks. The Moby Dick Sazerac is made with rye, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe-soaked rice paper. The whale reference comes from the addition of ambergris – yes, the sperm whale secretion – which adds body. The Monkey Ball contains scotch, cassia, chocolate, and truffle and banana soda. Czech lager is the only beer, but if you like pale ale it can be jazzed up with a hop ‘atomisation’.
Does all this sound a bit pretentious? Think about it like this: comparing White Lyan to your local boozer is like comparing Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck to a greasy spoon. It’s a genuine pioneer in a new cocktail movement – be a part of it yourself and visit.
|Venue name:||White Lyan||Contact:|
153 Hoxton Street
|Transport:||Rail: Hoxton Overground|
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Average User Rating
4 / 5
- 5 star:15
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:4
- 2 star:3
- 1 star:2
Visited the White Lyan for the first time a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday party—what a great time! The bar has a dark, chilled atmosphere, but the guys behind the bar were super-friendly and extremely knowledgeable about what they were serving us. I’ll admit, as a cocktail lover myself, I was a bit skeptical about ordering a drink that contained no freshly squeezed juices or ice. Vinegar? But after one sip, I was totally convinced that this bar was offering some pretty innovative mixology.Not only are the drinks lovely to look at, they’re equally tasty.I ordered the Moby Dick; the flavours were intense and melded together nicely. No ice, no problem…they still tasted cool and no diluted drinks halfway through; that’s certainly a plus! As the evening progressed the party shifted underground to the basement, were we proceeded to go crazy to some great eighties tunes. Oh, and don’t forget to take a twirl on the (erotic city) stripper poles, a must for getting any party started right.
Unlike any other bar in London, or the world for that matter, White Lyan is brilliant for anyone who really loves cocktails and the creativity and care that goes into making really delicious ones. Pre-bottling the drinks makes service amazingly quick, and you don't have to queue up and be cramped at the bar while bartenders who love themselves too much perform for their audience while making a mess and taking ages to make your drink. The menu is perfectly composed to please both the most traditional and adventurous of palates, it really has something for everyone. If you just want to chill out and get away from the more scene-y bars, this is the place to go. The drinks are chilled to perfection so the no-ice idea is no problem, and you don't have to suffer a completely diluted and off balance drink at the end. It's really fascinating to feel the drinks evolve as they reach room temperature too, a whole host of new flavours open up. You can tell this place is made by people who love cocktails for people who love cocktails. If you aren't afraid of trusting some of the best bartenders in the world to make you lovely drinks, and won't get pissy by not getting to order a crap caipirinha, While Lyan is a revelation and no, it's not pretentious, if you think it is then you need to get over yourself and relax. The bartenders might quite possibly be the most geeky, nerdy people in the industry, but damn, they know their stuff. There is also sexy disco and stripper poles in the basement on weekends, for when you want to go nuts.
I've been to the White Lyan a few times now, with each trip a treat. Every time I've enjoyed great service and love the dark, slick interior. I've been there with friends and enjoyed dancing downstairs too, but best of all were the cocktails and the thoughtfully provided glasses of water. All in all a wonderful place I'll definitely continue frequenting.
Hoxtons little gem, what a wonderful concept on cocktail making, reasonably priced too. I actually didn't feel like I was in London, maybe a downtown new york bar but without the pretentiousness, Welcoming, lovely staff and great music choice too, tasteful! And for those of you who don't drink, let's face it, where else can you order coconut water or fizzy berry juice as a soft drink!
We need more White Lyans!
I found this bar through friends and I'm so glad I did. It's dark and super cool, perfect for dates and drinks with friends. The drinks have a real bespoke feeling to them - instantly interesting and different from other bars. The smaller the cocktail, I learnt, the stronger it is and the different flavours they've created are amazing. Downstairs is a great hang out for dancing and more drinking and the music was so much fun. Bar men aren't bad to look at either! I'll be back!
My first visit to White Lyan on Hoxton street was in November 2013, I have been back numerous times due to the fact that the bar has delicious or should I say deliciously strong and tasty beverages, there is also chips (the flat room temperature kind) and Nutella for when you feel hungry for a nibble while having a drink....
White Lyan is amazing as the drinks appear so quickly and they are beautifully presented, each drink has a different shaped glass. The guys behind the bar are friendly and chatty and well informed on all things drink. The bar is super chilled out also, the music is great and it makes for a splendid wind down to any day.
Lastly this is an interesting and might I add amazing way to serve up a drink, it's so lovely to not have an orange peel shank your eye while you drink.
I would definitely recommend this bar to friends and anyone looking for something delicious to sip on.
Oo, I'm just not sure. The atmosphere is quite subdued, and you just can't get over the initial shock of paying for the world's tiniest cocktails. However, Zetter Townhouse's drinks are tiny but potent and perfect to sip - White Lyan's just aren't. Without ice, they still taste watery and dilute, instead of strong, and seem to lack refined flavours.
Cool eighties-inspired interior / great soda drinks (no ice is no problem) / excellent service / limited snacks menu - I liked the 'sweet & salty' crisps with nutella & olive oil dip, but probably not to everybody's taste / some of the cocktails are 'challenging' ... and not always in a good way... question the decision not to use citrus - a gin drink I had used blueberry vinegar instead of citrus as a souring agent and tasted distinctly vinegary... Overall, good cocktail bar, but order drinks carefully!
Visited White Lyan last week after hearing lots of buzz about it online. The space is nice – a little bit eighties... minimal black and chrome, with couches in the back corner. Very friendly service - bar tender eager to explain concept behind bar, the menu and help with ordering drinks. Ordered 'Sweet & Salty' - crisps with a nutella & olive oil dip. I liked it a lot but might not be to everyone's taste! The drinks were a bit mixed... ordered one of the pre-mixed soda drinks. Was very drinkable, and no ice was no problem. My bf ordered a smoked tequila drink which he described as 'challenging'! I tried it - was nice but quite intense... the smoke gives the tequila a mezcal taste. I ordered the Moby Dick cocktail with the interesting addition of ambergris (sperm whale bile) - this felt a bit like a gimmick and I'm not sure what it added to the drink. Also have to question the choice to use vinegars instead of citrus - a gin drink with blueberry vinegar was VERY vinegary... Overall an interesting concept, but order carefully... some drinks much better than others..
The last paragraph of the review sums it up and explains the comments below. Some people will get it (and will want to get it), others simply won't. We visited from the US and it was the best drinks and service we've ever had. As the site suggests, an amazing innovation
Worst bar ever, sickly tasting drinks , no use of citrus because apparently you can't find consistency with lemons and limes. What a load of nonsense. This really is the emperor's new clothes
A truly remarkable place, the cocktails are works of art! Beautifully made, different and tasty. This place really is an 'experience', the team are wonderful! Chatty, knowledgable and the music very tasteful. Best thing of all is value for money, so well priced. Best night out in YEARS.
It was a fun experience, however, they need to get some ice. The drinks are cold/coolish when they arrive but then, inevitably, they get warm and lukewarm cocktails aren't especially nice.. Also, our main contention with this bar - they sold us a tiny portion of Monster Munch and McCoys with a Nutella dip under the guise of some silly 'Lyans' fish and chips rubbish... So, maybe don't get any snacks if you go, or bring your own Monster munch for a fraction of the cost as it's a total rip off.. £2 for about 7 Monster Munch... that's ridiculous!
Decor is reminiscent of a table dancing venue, all wipe clean black pleather and chrome. Deserted when we visited on a Sunday evening. I realise drinks look smaller without ice, but £8 for what looked like a double measure in a tumbler? Not impressed.
A great bar, great drinks and a basement where you can cut loose and dance the night away. Try the beeswax old fashioned and take the pole dancing pole for a spin. Great stuff