Dandelyan Bar on London’s South Bank reveals new floral-inspired menu
World Best Bar
Feb 12, 2019
26 November 2020
Botanicals are a trend that is not going away any time soon. Whole Foods called botanicals their top food trend for 2018, saying “Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom, from adding whole flowers and petals into dishes to infusing botanical flavours into drinks and snacks.” This has meant that Instagram influencers and fad-following foodies have filled your social media wall for months with drinks garnished with what looks like entire bouquets and dishes that look like the insides of a lawn mower after it went haywire at the Chelsea Flower Show.
This flower fad has come at a cost, however, and it is highlighted in the new menu at Dandelyan, the bar at the Mondrian Hotel on London’s South Bank. The new menu is called ‘The Modern Life of Plants’ and is the fifth menu from the bar named the ‘world’s best bar’ at the 2017 Spirited Awards.
In their own words, the concept of ‘The Modern Life of Plants’ is:
“Bucking the trend of seasonality, foraging and wild food, the menu will concentrate on only three core ingredients that, thanks to industrialisation, are available all year round. In turn, the menu will hope to promote the positives of industrialisation as a good example of waste management and a realistic view of the future of food – key parts of Dandelyan’s focus.”
This is all well and good as a concept, you may be wondering, but what does it actually mean for the Dandelyan drinks menu? The drinks are divided into four categories. Three of these take inspiration from a single plant each.
The first category is mint. Don’t expect anything as a crisp mojito, however. That would be far too simple an idea for the bar brain of Dandelyan’s founder [Ryan Chetiyawardana, https://www.instagram.com/mrlyan/?hl=en] (known as Mr Lyan). Instead, we get a selection of new drinks both featuring and inspired by mint. The Brundall features unadulterated mint leaves. The aptly named Bastet features catnip honey, with the menu telling us that catnip – yes, the stuff that is like cat crack – is a relative of mint. Then there is the intriguing Paperclip Fix, a drink that mixes Jim Bean Rye with (in ascending order of weirdness), herbal beurre blanc (where we imagine the mint is), paper fibre and gunpowder. Definitely one that will make your evening go with a bang!
The second grouping on the new Dandelyan menu is centred around grapes. Though, of course, there’s nothing so obvious as a wine. Instead, we get Standing Stones featuring alcohols brewed from the vine the grapes grow on mixed with vermouth, Maker’s Mark, lemon and honey. An East Winds Fizz contains the grape-based Courvoisier VSOP alongside red vine leaves, Moscato and Mother cordial. The other two take inspiration from grapes. The Barren Old Fashioned is a new take of the classic featuring a number of plants that have been bred with the same science that made grapes seedless, and the Canon Cosmo is a throwback to the ‘70s, a time when…um…people also drank grape juice? The concept for this one is confusing, but it’s a good aperitif nonetheless.
The next selection is based on hops, those plucky little plants you have to thank for the taste of your favourite beer. Not that beer features anywhere in this group of four. What does feature across the four drinks, however, are intriguing ingredients such as carrot-currant cordial, potato syrup and something the menu calls ‘beta acid goodness’, based on the beta acids from hops that are currently helping to save dwindling bee populations.
That last category is based on classics. No, the classic is not a mysterious plant that Mr Lyan discovered in his travels, he actually means that some of the more floral classics from previous Dandelyan menus have been allowed to make a comeback. This means a return for the BC3 Negroni and the Pinnacle Point Fizz with its crown of roasted sweetcorn. Also back are the Concrete Sazerac, which contains real balls of concrete (not for eating thankfully!) and absinthe as well as and the Koji Hardshake, the bar’s take on a whiskey sour.
In short, there’s a lot for experimental cocktail fans to love, though those looking for a few pretty blooms in their beverage to Instagram may be bitterly disappointed. For everyone else, however, this menu offers a lot to try. They have even upped the number of non-alcoholic variants of their cocktails, following the trend for the all year round dry January that has swept the London bar scene. So for everyone from pleasure-seeking teetotallers to those who want a good stiff drink, this fifth chapter of the Dandelyan story is an exciting one.