Dandelyan Bar, Mondrian Hotel

Some of London’s most highly regarded cocktail bars are found in the city’s luxury hotels, so I should not be surprised to hear that creative mixologist mastermind, Ryan Chetiyawardana (known as Mr Lyan) would be opening his second bar within a hotel. Known for pushing the boundaries of bartending, Ryan has previously worked behind the counter of some of the most pioneering cocktail joints; he opened his first bar (White Lyan) in Hoxton earlier this year, creating concoctions using no ice or fresh ingredients.

Dandelyan, set in the lavish new Mondrian Hotel on the river has smart hotel staff serving and pouring and sophisticated guests sitting on the luxury bar stools – the atmosphere is completely the opposite of the East London laid-back vibe I experienced in Hoxton. Eager to try Mr Lyan’s newest venture, a group of us swished in on a Monday evening ready to sample a selection of the top drinks, needless to say we had high expectations.

Here, ice and citrus essentials are allowed, but Mr Lyan still ensures the concept and recipes are adventurous and original. The beautifully designed floral cocktail menu splits the drinks into flavour groups: cereal, vegetal, mineral and floral. On the back page a diagram illustrates the main tastes of each drink and whether it is more suitable for daytime or nighttime drinking. We chose six to sip and share, along with a range of tasty bar snacks.

My favourites included the ‘Puffed Grains & Chocolate’ a long Scotch-based drink with a nutty sweet taste and the signature ‘Dandelyan Sour’ which is very easy to drink served in a pretty coupette glass: a botanical taste with a mix of gin, citrus flavours and aromatic garden bitters. For something very light and refreshing the popular ‘Southbank’ is a good bet, an elegant rum-based drink with a nice balance of grapefruit and honey. I also loved the ‘Monroe’, a strong vodka cocktail with lemon, wheat and passionfruit.

Despite the complex and intricate design of these cocktails, there is a drink to suit everyone, whether you are a cocktail fan or not. Mr Lyan is a mixologist magician and this new bar is sure to make Mondrian Hotel a drinking destination.

More information on Dandelyan Bar here.

White Lyan, Hoxton

As the prohibition bar trend begins to recede, cocktail purveyors look for new ideas to tempt customers. White Lyan is certainly unlike any other bar I’ve visited… award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana has created a bar which does not stock nor use perishable ingredients, omits ice and avoids all branded products. For his first solo venture he has challenged himself to a tricky task of concocting brilliant cocktails without any of the usual components.

The drinks are thoughtful and clever, most of the hard labour is done before the doors open… bottles of refined and rebuilt spirits sit scientifically in the fridges behind the bar. It is experimental but understated mixology, and it is certainly a lot calmer behind the bar without all the ice crushing and lemon zesting. When it comes to substituting the usual elements of ice, sugar, egg white and citrus, Ryan has an answer: a fragrance atomiser which adds zing to some recipes and a small electrical mixer used as a thickener to recipes that need it. There were moments when I thought, wow these cocktails are great, but wouldn’t they taste even better with the forbidden fruits.

The no frills, simple venue has retained many of the previous pub’s features, the focus is on the quality of drinks rather than a fancy interior. It is a notion I appreciated and understood. The price point is noticeably more reasonable than the competitors: cocktails are £6-9 each. The Moby Dick Sazarac is already a firm favourite made with rye, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe-soaked rice paper. It is a tasty and exceptionally well balanced drink; I found the floating particles of ambergris (sperm whale secretion) rather distracting… but apparently it is crucial for adding texture and body. The Lyan Club Cocktail was rather more delicate – a lovely combination of Mr Lyan Gin, turmeric and red apple shrub, and soda. Off menu we tried various other wonderful concoctions, and I can recommend the Gimletto, Shurbo Tandy and the White Lyan take on a Whisky Sour.

Located in the less trendy end of Hoxton, you have to look hard to find White Lyan. I’ll let you decide whether Ryan’s creations are crazy, cool or clever; one thing’s for sure… everyone is talking about this new cocktail concept bar in London and I think it deserves the hype.

More information here: whitelyan.com