Ryan Chetiyawardana knows a thing or two about cocktails. Known as Mr Lyan in bartending circles, he shook up the scene when he opened White Lyan in Hoxton in 2013, doing away with branded drinks, perishables and ice and only serving house drinks. With the 2014 opening of Dandelyan, his latest venture at the stylish Mondrian Hotel on London’s Southbank, he’s achieved a difficult feat for London bars today: maintaining an excited following and good reputation.
You could probably take a good guess at the type of drinks on offer at Dandelyan. Chetiyawardana’s inspiration for the menu was the time-old science of botany. Indeed, the entire experience here is reminiscent of a plant scientist’s work as they explore and record their thoughts. The playfully designed menu is something to behold on its own. Designed to look and feel like a botanist’s field notebook, each cocktail is assigned one of six sections; Hunter, Gatherer, Shaman, Explorer, Classics & Booze- less. Each section offers a powerful selection of flavours and, quite handily, a recommended drinking time.
Nestled in the Hunter section, perhaps confusingly, is the ‘Natural Born Gatherer’. Suggested as a light, all day aperitif, it’s perfect for when you’re in dire need of something stronger than your lunchtime Americano. Combining Ford’s Gin, melon wine, truffle apertivo, elderflower and soda: it packs a refreshing punch, with a short but pleasant a ertaste. If you’re looking for something designed to ease you into the evening, the ‘Night Watchman’ is a good bet. Designed to reflect the landscape and conditions in Colombia, it blends Plantation Rum with coffee and chilli to give a satisfying mellow flavour, with a slightly tropical after-taste.
At a time when the trendy hotel bars of London are charging close to £20 to sample their cocktail fare, Dandelyan’s approach is a welcome touch. Cocktails are between £12.50 – £13.50, with the booze-less options coming in at around £7.
Like White Lyan, Chetiyawardana’s genius at Dandelyan could quite easily be nestled away in Shoreditch. But to do that might risk the locality overtaking its menu so its current base means the drinks really do the talking. That being said, the surroundings are not to be sneered at. Occupying the ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel on London’s Southbank, plush brown velvet armchairs mix with sumptuous leather banque es and copper décor, making Dandelyan feel like a modern-day equivalent of Great Gatsby opulence.
Dandelyan is a bar that fulfils different needs. There’s plenty to explore around it, from the visually stunning reception – painstakingly cra ed out of copper to resemble a ships hull – to the equally sumptuous Sea Containers restaurant down the hallway. You could use it to impress on a potential business partner or colleague just as much as you might impress a first date. When you walk in, the friendly and approachable team make you feel at home and give you just the right mix of cocktail advice and menu-perusing time.
If you’re heading there after work – or over a weekend – expect it to be busier than usual but the mixture of people means you’ll never feel as though you’re entering a residents-only bar. Dandelyan is well and truly open for business – and smashing it.
James Elliott Brookes
Words by James Brookes