alex lawrence lyaness

Alex Lawrence: The little posh boy

18 May, 2020

With a sense of irony his industry peers call him a little posh boy. It’s ironic because Alex Lawrence is covered in tattoos, carries a thick Scottish twang and is far from what is traditionally deemed ‘posh’.

His private school education is what draws in the nickname and in many ways it was his rejection of this system that made him the person he is today.

”I did all the normal formula of A-levels and going to university, but I fucking hated it,” says Lawrence.

“It’s the most oppressive system for young people so I got to university and I stuck around for nine days, got my student loan and then did what I wanted.

“Music was always my passion. I went to music college the following year with the sole purpose of finding a band and then dropping out.” He adds that he’s still paying back the fees.

“I played in a couple of bands over the next few years to minor success but they were some of my happiest days.”

His bartending career began when he needed to raise money to sustain this music dream and he started in Aberdeen at a high-volume pub. By the age of 19 he was a trainee assistant manager, but once he discovered cocktails Lawrence took up a second job to learn more about them before landing a role at Aberdeen’s Orchid.

“That’s where I self-studied super hard and I had a mentor in Dan Nevsky. I remember reading Difford’s Guide every day, trying to learn as much as physically possible.

“We had a rotovap and I started annoying everyone with it trying to make cocktails, but then we realised it was better for making gin. It was like a crazy dream, being in my early 20s and developing my own gin (Porter’s).”

Lawrence then went down to London for Diageo World Class and visited Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Dandelyan for the first time, and sat there for a solid 12 hours.

“I made it my mission to work there and I begged for a job for about six months until Ryan eventually gave in. I sold everything I had, including my music equipment, to move to London because I was given two weeks’ notice to start.”

Lawrence has now been in London for five years, but it wasn’t straightforward to begin with.

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A post shared by Alex Lawrence (@alexjslawrence) on Dec 11, 2019 at 4:21am PST

“London was tough for the first six months – I hated it. I’d get halfway home on the bus from a shift and start crying, but I couldn’t go home because that would have been a failure. It took a while to get going and I started to make industry friends, but to this day I have, like, three friends outside of work.”

Although he took a brief sabbatical to help launch Swift in London’s Soho, there’s no questioning the success Lawrence enjoyed while working at Dandelyan. He rose to head bartender where he oversaw its topping of The World’s 50 Best Bars before it rebranded to Lyaness in 2019.

“I’d put my heart and soul into Dandelyan so when Lyaness came about I didn’t think I was the right person to take it forward. I was going to have to look elsewhere, but then they made this role up for me, they wouldn’t let me leave.”

The relationship Lawrence has with Chetiyawardana is what kept him with the company, now holding the role of global bar director overseeing the international bars under the portfolio.

“I obviously started working for Ryan, but now he’s become one of my best pals and we have a natural way of communicating. I wouldn't want to work for anyone else and I’m so privileged to be in the position I am.”

The little posh boy was actually invited back to one of his old schools to give a talk about alternative career paths to university. But the fact he was later turned down when they discovered his tattoos only emphasises this sense of irony because, quite simply, Lawrence is a true success story of someone who goes against the grain.

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