The Whiskey Cola
A drink from Budapest’s Pink Pony Club.
A drink from Lyaness in London.
Britain’s three lockdowns — some of the strictest in the world — were start-stop-start affairs that demanded patience and flexibility of its citizens. Lyaness owner Ryan Chetiyawardana understands this better than most. The celebrated owner of the Mr Lyan group of establishments famously closed his Dandelyan bar within days of winning first place among the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2018. Chetiyawardana opened Lyaness at the same location at Sea Containers London a year later.
Chocolate, citrus, and the herbs and wines of Lillet have traveled, put down roots across the world, and returned to their points of origin.
Each spirit in the Return Ticket has a fully stamped passport. At its heart is Colombo gin, a dry spirit created in Sri Lanka in the 1940s to mimic British gin. Colombo gets its slight spiciness from native botanicals like cinnamon, ginger, and curry, and its manufacturer, Rockland Distilleries, now supports sustainable initiatives in Sri Lanka. The cocktail’s other flavors have also circled the globe.
“Chocolate, citrus, and the herbs and wines of Lillet have traveled, put down roots across the world, and returned to their points of origin,” writes Chetiyawardana in an email. He points out that even the absinthe is on a return tour, a prodigal son that found renewed popularity (though it was never formally banned in Britain).
Spice travel routes sound like ancient — or rather, classical — history, but the way his ingredients get to him still concerns Chetiyawardana. His past experiments (pre-batched cocktails, extracting flavors from fruit pits, or banning ice and citrus) were about expressing exciting flavors with minimal impact on their places of origin. “It's been really exciting for me to demonstrate that luxury experiences don't need to do damage,” writes Chetiyawardana. “I think some of the motivation came from my biology background, but in general we try and present things that challenge and shift prejudices.”
The pandemic has Chetiyawardana awaiting the reopening of Lyaness and the opportunity to return to his other family — his two bars, Silver Lyan and Super Lyan, in Washington, D.C., and Amsterdam. Like the globally circulating ingredients that inspire his drinks, Chetiyawardana is looking forward to getting back out in the world to places both familiar (Japan, Mexico, and Australia) and new: “I'm excited to hit places I've not visited before. Seoul, Taipei, and Lima are all high on my list after crossing paths with peers from there, and hearing about all the amazing food/drink scenes!”
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.
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