Is That a Chicken Leg Bone in Your Martini or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

By Kerry Jepsen


Kerry Jepsen

What’s a StarChefs Congress without a little cocktailery in the mix. Every year, StarChefs throws one of the biggest star-studded cocktail hours in the business. 

Will Hollingsworth from The Spotted Owl in Cleveland gave a truly moving “Caffe Shakerato e Caffe Corretto” featuring Nespresso, Fernet branca, Mexican cocoa cane syrup, and cinnamon served in a Nick and Nora—and kept attendees on their toes. Yael Vengroff from L.A.’s The Spare Room kept things super chill with a frozen mezcal margarita featuring Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Andros mango purée, Campari, and lime. Jacob Tcshetter from the Grand Army in Brooklyn had a line out the door for his strawberry Champagne mojita featuring the ruby fruit, Rhum JM, mint, and bubbles. With so much talent, taste, and booze in one room, keeping it light and clean seemed almost impossible, but one bartender set out to do just that.

Possibly one of the best bartenders in the world right now, and certainly in the U.K., Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr. Lyan) of the famed Dandelyan in London raised eyebrows with a literal interpretation of a bone-dry martini. This clear, clean, and crisp neo-classic was composed of Absolut Elyx Vodka that has been put through a copper column for optimum smoothness, a twist of lemon, and tincture of a dissolved chicken leg bone. You read that correctly, Mr. Lyan takes the leg bone of an organic chicken, roasts it for 45 minutes at 200ºC, and grinds it into a coarse powder. The powder is then broken down with 100 milliliters phosphoric acid, 1 gram sodium, 1 gram magnesium, and 1 gram calcium salts for two days. The product is then diluted with 500 grams water and the tincture is ready. 

With such an incredibly acidic tincture, Mr. Lyan is careful to only use a glass rinse-worth and chilled vodka is poured on top. The result is a dry martini which Mr. Lyan likens to having a “Burgundian-style flintiness,” and says, “I wanted to showcase a spirit that is so highly overlooked and downtrodden. I do that by delivering a cocktail that has a minimalist composition that only accentuates the spirit’s cleanliness and minerality.” 

But what about the chicken bone? “That technique began as a play on terminology, a bone-dry martini. But, I found the cocktail to have such a lovely dryness as to have an aperitif affect of washing over and cleansing the palate and that’s exactly what I wanted to do with this cocktail.” 

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