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5 Minutes With... Mr Lyan

We chat life in London with the busiest man in booze and owner of the recently voted world's second best bar.

DrinkUp: How’s life on Hoxton Street these days?
Mr Lyan: Great! There's lots of changes - for us, and the street. It's amazing to see how it's evolved over the last 5 years. 

How did you become a bar owner in competitive London?
Like many, by fortune and accident. It was always something I'd spoken about with Karen and Natasha but it was a matter of timing and circumstance that allowed it. 

What’s the one thing you're most excited by/proud of across your sites?
The team. And it's great that that's becoming a cliched answer because it's the part I've always cared about the most - and without doubt the most important element. We set out to assemble a diverse group that were excited and passionate about doing something different and it's great we're continuing to strive that way. 

What’s your favourite bar in London?
It changes. But actually, I was talking with Will (head bartender of Super Lyan) last night about the magic of a well cared for environment with pool tables (don't get me wrong - I love a dive joint with a table too) and it struck me how much I love Original Sin and how I need to spend more time there. So currently, Original Sin!

Are there any cocktails you hate?
Strawberry Daiquiri - a way to ruin good elements. It's the anti cocktail - it's not at all greater than the sum of its parts. And the Bloody Mary - the most pretentious cocktail out there. No I don't want a burger and a langoustine in my drink. 

Do you have a desert island drink? And bartender?
And bartender! Great question! 1964 Bowmore and Mike and Jas being hilarious, friendly and surly, and mixing drinks with it. 

Have you ever freaked out over a celebrity in your bar?
Bjork coming in the first time, and then her coming to dj White Lyan's birthday - the team had to stop me getting all fanboy on her. Musicians are the only ones I get flustered by. 

If you weren't a bartender what would you do?
I had many hats at different stages - fine art, design, biology, writing - each could've taken hold, but I kinda still do all of them, so I think I would've been doing this in some sort of guise whatever happened. 

Any hobbies outside of barrels and booze?
Music, farming, art, reading - I'm too much of a physical wreck anymore but I used to love the King Fu I was doing. 

What was the worst flat you had in London?
It was good, then it went shit - of course due to the people. I was living in a house with my ex and we had the top floor - en suite, balcony, big space - and it was great throughout the house in a leafy private road in Canonbury. But as some moved out, and others moved in, it just descended into a student house. I'd spent many years looking after people - cooking, cleaning etc and I couldn't be fucked with it by that stage. 

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Faviken for my 30th. Incredible hospitality - we felt genuinely welcomed into someone's home. Just someone with kick ass wine who reallllly knew how to cook. 

What’s the most underrated food spot in town?
McDonalds. I mean it's evil genius territory. It's what every burger joint is trying to replicate - just minus destroying the planet and your digestive tract parts. It's like Coca Cola, or crack, - everyone knows it's terrible, but it taps into something basic and universal that's undeniably delicious. Credit where credit's due. 

What’s your favourite spot in London that’s not a bar?
Tate Modern, Wellcome, Hackney Marshes, everywhere green.

We’re buying the shots – what are you having?
Cheap bourbon or real tequila. And anything with banana in it.