Behind the Bar Snap Shot

Ready for a London Bar Expert's Exciting New Trip?

Inside the new venture from the owner of White Lyan. (Photo: Dandelyan)

Imagine a bar menu organized like a field guide.

A place where a bartender takes guests on a wild trip, not through hilly underbrush, but across a topography of distinctive ingredients, such as bitter black currant, Douglas fir and patchouli.

Welcome to Dandelyan, the new venture from Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan renown. The bar opened in the 359-room Mondrian on the Thames River in London in October 2014. To Chetiyawardana, Dandelyan is a “local watering hole in a hotel,” but this watering hole is located in a hotel lobby that reportedly cost 1 million pounds to renovate.

Dandelyan boasts an iconic green marble bar and dramatic views of the Thames.

Everyone Has a Type

The menu at Dandelyan is organized according to four category types: Cereal, Vegetal, Mineral, Floral. Chetiyawardana’s chosen categories, though esoteric, were not intended to confuse bar guests, but, as he says, “We didn’t want the sections to be too obvious either.”

In order to offer a helping ordering hand, the menu also features pictorial references, a list of ingredients for each cocktail, a suggested occasion for drinking each cocktail and a brief tasting overview. There’s even a sensory ‘map’ that helps guests choose their cocktails by style of drink.

“Sometimes we’re trying to challenge, perhaps creating tropical fruit aromas from cereals, other times we’re exploring characteristics of the plants themselves,” says Chetiyawardana. “The drinks cover a huge spectrum of tastes and occasions.”

The Cocktails Themselves

On to the drinks: In the first category, “Cereal,” the Puffed Grains and Chocolate features Compass Box Great King St. Scotch, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao, toasted grain soda, chocolate and pink peppercorn.

For the “Mineral” section, Chetiyawardana dubbed a drink Chablis, a perfect tribute to the famous minerality of the white wine from Burgundy. In Dandelyan’s Chablis cocktail, Fino Sherry, lemon and Chalk Hill Bitter beer are mixed with Mr. Lyan Gin, one of Chetiyawardana’s own spirits. (Dandelyan is one of the few places you can sample his line of proprietary bottlings.)

Should you want to take a trip of a different nature after a wander across Dandelyan’s innovative menu, the Mondrian’s dance club, Half & Half, evokes the bawdy heyday of 1980s New York.

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.