During my visit to London, of course I had to check out Dandelyan, recently named the “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the 2017 Spirited Awards in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail (We were there! Read about it here.)
Founded by Ryan Chetiyawardana — aka Mr. Lyan — Dandelyan is in the Mondrian Hotel on London’s South Bank. The bar was also named the “best international hotel bar” and won an award for “best international bar team.” In the “world’s best cocktail bar” category, Dandelyan had been up against Dante in NYC, Singapore’s Tippling Club, and The Hawthorne in Boston.
According to Dandelyan's website,
The focus of Dandelyan has always been on bringing a neighbourhood vibe to the glamour of Mondrian London. Our team, the menu and the ethos have always been focused on making an unusual and exciting offering accessible as well as bringing a sense of fun to proceedings! We play a mixture of late 70s and early 80s rock, funk and disco with our favourite DJs playing each weekend and a focus on hip hop for Sunday Lyan, our Sunday evening wind down.
It just so happened that the only time I had available to visit was Sunday evening for the bar's hip hop set. I had no expectations; I just knew I wanted to check out the world's best cocktail bar.
As soon as we walked in, it felt like a chic place to be. The decor felt like a luxurious blast from the past with green walls, mirrored tables, and brass adornments throughout the bar.
Dandelyan doesn't offer an extensive food menu, as the main event at this establishment is the cocktails. However, we did sample the ceviche (bream, brill, prawns, lime, red onion, chilli, coriander, corn nuts) and burrata with heirloom tomatoes on grilled focaccia. Both were delicious and the perfect size for bar bites. I highly recommend ordering food with your cocktails if you want to leave without stumbling.
Now on to the good stuff — the cocktails. The menu is divided into four sections: Faith, Lust, Currency and Rock ‘n’ Roll, while Vices of Botany serves both Dandelyan originals, refined interpretations of the classics, and boozeless cocktails.
I made sure to sample a cocktail from each section. (Hey, it's a hard job but someone has to do it.) Each cocktail is so intricately made that I had no idea what they'd taste like. I sampled Beau Wine and Flower of Five from Faith, Lonely Heart Killers from Lust, Oak Island Old Fashioned from Currency, Jurassic Jungle No. 2 in the Classics section, and my personal favorite, The Westwood from Rock 'n' Roll.
While the cocktails seem fancy and unattainable for cocktail non-connoisseurs, nothing could be further from the truth. There is literally something for everyone on the menu. I was with a group of guys who prefer to drink whiskey neat, but were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the cocktails after I suggested (read: forced) that they order from the menu. If conflicted about what to order, ask your waiter and he or she will be able to give great recommendations for your taste buds.
I give Dandelyan 5 out of 5 cocktails and can see why it was named the world's best cocktail bar. The service was impeccable and the overall vibe was unlike anywhere else I've experienced in London. Give it a whirl while you're there before or after dinner and let me know what you think!