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Drinking It In: Ryan Chetiyawardana

Bartender

The London-based cocktail impresario loves getting lost, eats and drinks as locally as he can, and wishes the rest of the world could embrace the Italian aperitivo tradition. Last year, Chetiyawardana’s Dandelyan Bar in London won Best New International Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail—the Oscars of the cocktail world—and he was also named Bartender of the Year.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.

I’ve been very lucky to have traveled a huge amount, but I’d love to go to Colombia or Brazil to taste all the amazing fruits I hear about that can’t travel outside their locale.

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)

Edinburgh still feels like home, but I don’t think I’d ever tire of visiting Tokyo.

Do you have a travel ritual?

Eat and drink local! 

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?

I don’t have any regular rituals I don’t think, although I’ll take music with me everywhere so I can sing in the shower!

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?

Kaiseki in Kyoto.

Edinburgh still feels like home for Chetiyawardana

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?

Eat like the locals, get drunk in a dive bar, and don’t lose your passport.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Happy-go-lucky.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?

I tend to travel for work so there’s always an element that’s structured, but I like to be able to wander and get lost.

 

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?

Some of the wooden objects given to me by my uncle when we visited him in Kenya.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?

1984. Not that it romanticizes travel at all—more that my copy has been to every continent (aside from Antarctica, although it almost made it there). And I like the idea of taking physical books with me as part of the journey and how they affix themselves to locations.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?

Someone who likes food, drink, animals, and has a conscience. Happy to travel with friends, family, and/or strangers if they share a similar outlook! 

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?

It’s too hard to travel unplugged with work now. Although Cuba was a welcome change!

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?

Aperitivo. A true mid afternoon pause where people can stop and relax. It’s likely this would change the world for the better if it was ubiquitous.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?

The local food and drink (a recurring theme here!)

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?

Swimming. I love being in the water and I never make time when I’m at home.

What’s your first travel memory?

Fishing with my brother and dad, then running around melon fields in France when I was about five years old. We ran amongst the sprinklers and ate the sweetest melons ever. I still remember the taste.

>>NEXT: AFAR Insider Nicky Fitzgerald