I hate to be the one to deliver bad news, but White Lyan in Hoxton will close its doors forever in April. Before you start hysterically sobbing at the thought of never having whale sperm cocktails again (yes, these actually exist), take solace in the fact that you can still revel in Mr Lyan’s award-winning mixes at a snazzy hotel bar called Dandelyan.
The Venue and Atmosphere
I’ve got a bar bucket list that’s the length of my arm, and Dandelyan has wriggled its way into the priority pile. Finally getting around to striking it off, I paid it a visit midweek to find not only a stunning venue, but a lively and energetic crowd. Gliding through the lobby of the Mondrian hotel, we arrived promptly at our destination come 7.30pm, and unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a free table in sight. From the candy pink leather banquettes at the back of the room to the tall tan coloured seats at the infamous emerald green marble bar, every chair was occupied.
Arriving come nightfall, Dandelyan was bathed in low lighting with flickering candles set atop each individual table, including our own, which was perched beside the venue’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Although this made it a little more difficult to marvel at the venue’s stunning gold finishes, velvet upholstery and boutique quirks, it did manage to set the mood for our cocktail-fuelled evening ahead. I almost forgot to mention that we had prime viewing of the Thames and St. Paul’s where we sat, so we had plenty of other scenery to gawp at. In terms of clientele, thanks to its central location and luxurious surroundings, Dandelyan attracts a glamorous city crowd. We eye spied couples, a suited and booted work crowd alongside groups looking to catch-up over quality cocktails.
Dandelyan take pride in updating their menu regularly and as luck would have it, I managed to visit a short while after the launch of the 4th Chapter in their field series. Presented in a neat and floral illustrated booklet, Dandelyan’s menu showcases six different cocktail sections; all of which are inextricably linked to botany. The Lust Section managed to run away hand-in-hand with our hearts though as we sampled no less than three of its cocktails.
First up from this section was the Sweetheart Sazerac £14. Containing Jameson, Redbreast, dock leaf, absinthe and nettle, its backstory is derived from Irish farmers turning to a drop of whisky to deal with harsh weather conditions, and their wives spiking their flagons with restorative herbs to return them healthy. It was surprisingly smooth and memory inducing; born and bred in Ireland, I’ve had my fair share of nettle stings followed by panicked dock leaf picking. While I drank and reminisced over simpler days, my date made his way through the Arsenic Walt £13.50. Made using Tapatio Blanco, sour pear, long pepper and cucumber honey, its delicate sour taste and fluorescent green presentation make it a must order. We came to say goodbye to this section by ordering the Oyster Lunch £13.50. This cocktail gives a nod to the first painting to depict poppin’ bottles. Presented in a long flute with a stroke of blue flax resting inside the glass, this mix seamlessly married Mr. Lyan Cream-distilled Gin, blue flax, raspberry and sparkling wine. Not overly heavy on the sparkling wine, it’s the ideal aperitif cocktail.
Moving on, we hand-picked The Old Oak Fashioned £14 from the $£¥€ Section. Sticking out from its cocktail companions, it’s made with Bacardi Carta Oro, coconut fibre, raw cacao and labdanum and comes decorated with a rope tied around the body of the glass. Taking inspiration from the “Money Pit” (which was rumoured to be a site of pirate buried treasure), the ingredients are just as mind-boggling, with the labdanum coming from Mediterranean regions and also known for relieving stress. Dabbling in another section of the menu before we called it a night, my date went for the Pinnacle Point £13.50. It mixes nixtamalized blue corn, sloe, ginger bitters, sour pineapple and soda using Olmeca Blanco Tequila as a base. This zesty cocktail is named for the oldest site of our silcrete hunting tools and comes served with burnt corn.
If there ever was an audacious mixologist, it’s Mr Lyan; and although you won’t find any whale sperm on his new cocktail menu at Dandelyan, you will find plenty of other drinks to capture and challenge your imagination. Dandelyan's drink offering, riverside views and luxurious setting make it one of London's most impressive cocktail bars.