Cocktail fans: you no longer need to jet across the pond to experience the crafty sips concocted by Ryan Chetiyawardana. The renowned bartender – best known for snagging awards like World's Best Bar for his shuttered and reinvented concept Dandelyan – has opened his first concept outside Europe.
Silver Lyan opens February 7, 2020 in the brand new Riggs Hotel, a lifestyle-meets-luxury property in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. The new bar is a 71-seat subterranean lounge on the hotel’s lower floor with drinks that are an ode to what Chetiyawardana (or Mr Lyan, as he prefers) to America’s complex history. “DC is a super beautiful city, very manageable, very warm, and you can see the depth of its history and culture markers,” he says. “It’s also very diverse and energetic with an exciting food and drink scene.” Mr Lyan says he’s always loved the openness and bigger picture view in capital cities – part of the reason for situating his current concepts in London and Amsterdam.
Drinks focus on the “cultural exchange” of the UK and the U.S. with a focus on the accomplishments and contributions of the latter. The HMS Resolute was a mid-nineteenth-century British ship stranded in Antarctica that was rescued by the Americans; as a thank-you gesture the British turned some of its broken-down timbers into the desk that now sets in the Oval Office; the namesake cocktail stirs Fords Officers’ Reserve Gin from UK distiller Simon Ford that’s aged in Madeira casks, fino sherry (an aromatized wine adored by the Brits) and a lacto-berry falernum tea.
Project Apollo, a carbonated homage to America’s gift to humanity, uses Moonshot Gin, a UK brand whose botanicals – including moon rocks – are shot into near-space at very low pressure before being vacuum-distilled. Mr Lyan and his team also studied the analysis of the lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo mission, emulated their minerality and infused the spirit even further. It’s mixed with ironwort, sour pineapple and raspberry dust because apparently clouds in the Milky Way contain an ester found in the fruit. “So space smells like raspberries,” he says. How meta.
Lyan also works with local farmers who supply unexpected produce for his cocktails like sweet potatoes, roasted and infused into Cognac along with persimmons and kumquats for his take on the Sazerac. Blue and yellow corn is toasted, charred and macerated in curaçao; it’s shaken in a reconfigured Margarita, where it adds mouth feel and plumpness to the traditionally austere, bracing Tequila tipple.
He dedicates an entire section of the menu to the Martini, one of his favorite drinks and “one of life’s perfect moments,” including a wet version with Beefeater Gin and orange bitters and a dry take that stirs Belvedere Vodka and folds in Amalfi lemon distillate to lend lift on the palate. All four options can be ordered for one or two, and are served with a selection of accoutrements: oyster, olive, house-pickled onion and lemon twist.
But you’ll also find playful elements like a Jello Fruit Basket with two pieces each of four flavors (Apple Ketel 1 Martini, Orange Altos Tequila Sunrise, Pineapple Clairin Colada and Passionfruit Banks Daiquiri) arriving at the table along with 4 shots of Gosset Grande Reserve Brut Champagne.
Mr. Lyan wants the bar to be as accessible as possible both to guests who want to geek out over infusions and tinctures and those who just want to settle in with a drink after a long workday. “We want guests to feel better after their time spent in the bar,” he says. “But sometimes you have a hard day and need a warm hug.”
Silver Lyan is open 5pm to 2am daily; while walk-ins are accepted, reservations are preferred.