The combination of cocktails and flowers isn’t always a positive thing. In the wrong hands a drink that describes itself as ‘floral’ can sit uncomfortably between perfume and syrup. Thankfully, this is never the case at Dandelyan.
The Mondrian’s Thames-side cocktail bar is helmed by none other than Ryan Chetiyawardana – the drinks industry’s man of the moment. Having launched his own groundbreaking bar (where all drinks are pre-prepared and there are no perishables) in 2013, he has a slew of awards under his belt, attesting to the fact that he is widely accepted to be one of the best bartenders in the world.
Launching in 2014, within the Mondrian Hotel’s first stylish site on the Southbank, Dandelyan is based on a concept of modern botany. Informed by Chetiyawardana’s nomadic lifestyle and background in biology and philosophy (he studied both at university), he came up with the idea of seasonal field guides. The first featured a profile of cereal, vegetable, mineral and floral creations. The Mondrian’s new menu, launched at the beginning of March, investigates the human side of botany within four distinct sections: Hunter, Gatherer, Shaman, and Explorer – referencing a discipline through which botany has shaped history.
It’s a formula that’s working. Last year Dandelyan won ‘Best New International Cocktail Bar’ at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards 2015 and the Observer Food Monthly’s ‘2015 Best Place to Drink’ award.
Alongside interesting ingredients like pandan, plant haemoglobin and zedoary root - which was historically used as an antidote to cobra venom - many of the drinks use the whole of the plant and their roots. Mimosa, zedoary and parsley are used in their entirety. Shells and skins of plants – think cocoa husk, pistachio-shell, orgeat and mummified citrus – also make appearances.
We spoke to head bartender Aidan Bowie about the process of crafting drinks according to a modern botany philosophy, in one of the best bars in London.