The Takeaway: Interesting plant-based menu with unexpected drinks. Ambiance is more upscale, well-done hotel bar than a temple to booze. Great bar, but the #1 bar in the world… not sure about that.
The Dandelyan was the most highly-anticipated bar on our London hit-list, having curated an excellent social media presence that indicated an unforgettable cocktail experience. To our surprise, the atmosphere was comparatively laid back and felt like a well-run hotel bar instead.
The room is large and features sweeping views of the river along with floor-to-ceiling windows. Seating clusters meant for groups are clustered, with many of our fellow patrons polishing off their afternoon tea when we visited at 3 pm. The upshot of going to a bar at 3 pm is the ample availability of bar seats and we immediately parked ourselves front and center.
Interior of the bar – including groups of women having the high tea option Back bar at the Dandelyan. Actually a bit more of an edited selection than I had thought it would be.
The menu is an interesting but mildly schizophrenic read: it is separated into chapters under different plants, but the drinks don’t seem to necessarily contain the ingredients or the “essence” of the plants. The paragraphs under each drink can run from references to the 70’s Vogue diet (which involved 1200 calories – much of it coming from a bottle of red wine) to lectures about conservation. For example, under the Century Fizz portion of the menu: “…religious holidays cause a 25% increase in global waste. Preservation is of course a great antidote to this – distillation, fermentation, canning, salting – and important to hit the essentials first. The first truly successful canned product? Beer!”
One might have to wonder about the sobriety of the menu’s author(s). However, beneath each paragraph is as handy legend that classifies each cocktail based on flavor (e.g. “boozy bright sipper”) and recommended occasion (e.g. “early evening” or “nightcap”).
The drinks were delicious, although a bit less ostentatious in presentation that I had hoped for.
We got the:
- Space Fix (bartender’s recommendation): a champagne cocktail with the taste of fresh yellow peppers and strawberry popping bobas at the bottom
- Stranger Things Old Fashioned: a well-balanced habanero old fashioned with a white chocolate bark garnish to balance the heat
- Century Fizz: garnished with a very salty carrot but mostly tasted like a sweet peach champagne cocktail
In terms of service, the bartenders were friendly enough, but the bar appears geared toward business gatherings and as a traveler’s respite, rather than a lively place to conduct some Drunken Diplomacy and turn strangers into new friends. Enjoyable visit, but if pressed for time in London, I would much rather go to Gibson or Bar Termini.