On Old Street in Shoreditch, new dual-concept bar Tayēr + Elementary ushers in a decidedly 21st-century cocktail experience. Renowned bartenders Monica Berg and Alex Kratena recently opened the venue to showcase the countless ideas they’ve developed over the years helming venues from Oslo to elsewhere in London.
Just inside the door, Elementary serves as an introduction to their space, functioning as an all-day, community-oriented neighborhood bar. The drink menu here features classic cocktails with beer and wine and a seasonal food menu by TÁ TÁ Eatery.
Beyond Elementary, the Tayēr concept unfolds. Berg and Kratena worked with Behind Bars to create a destination that counterbalances the hard industrial framing of the room with the warmth of natural woods, plants, books, and ingredients. “Tayēr is very much a ‘working space’ as the name reflects, it derives from ‘taller’ meaning ‘workshop’ in Spanish,” explains Berg.
In the many years that they have spent working in the world of bartending—from Kratena at Artesian to Berg at Himkok—their vast experience has informed many of the design choices found at Tayēr. Berg explains that this led to structural developments found at their new spot: “Drinks have changed over the years and progressed a lot, even just in the past decade. In my opinion, the bar station has remained mostly the same.” With that in mind, Berg and Kratena set up their bartending station from the bartenders’ point of view. “Our Hexagon bar station is designed for efficiency, flexibility and a more ergonomic way of working,” she says. “In the intersection between kitchen and bar, it allows for the efficiency of a professional kitchen, yet retains the social aspect and interaction that we all love in bars.”
After building a prototype out of cardboard and painters tape, they searched for a collaborator to bring their bar station concept to life. Many believed their prototype, because of the level of precision steel work needed, would be too difficult to achieve. “It wasn’t until we teamed up with Oslo-based Behind Bars that we really found a partnership that worked,” says Berg. “The technology they apply to the process is truly groundbreaking because the use of VR allows you to spend time in your bar, working in your bar, before it’s even built!”
The result is a station concept that means bartenders never need to twist their knees or bend over and put pressure on their lower back. Each bartender sets up a series of modular steel hexagons and half-hexagon containers for service in a way that maximizes their own flow. Prior to service, each bartender customizes their options: from right- or left-handed configurations to placement of each bottle, vessel and utensil. “I am constantly shifting the hexagons around trying to improve my flow,” says Berg. “After a few times, you kind of get into it. It’s also important to point out that you never work alone on the station, as the two bartenders running it are facing each other. The menu is set up like kitchen stations, so one bartender does half of the drinks and the other the rest.”
For all of the futuristic technology that went into creating Tayēr, the bar provides a relaxed environment to taste their creative cocktails. They highlight seasonal ingredients—currently, rhubarb, black currant leaves, sprouted rye, and cherrywood all make appearances.
“The drinks change as often as the ingredients dictate,” says Berg. “On our opening menu, we had a cocktail using plums we harvested in Norway last year, but it was only ever enough for 33 portions. After that we 86’ed it. Last week we put on a drink using wood sorrel, which we’ll probably keep for a bit. We also bought some end of season leafy Italian lemons, which we’ll make into a limoncello-style drink for next year.”
Well-known for her love of Aquavit, Berg combines Strand Butter Aquavit with Havana 3 Year Old Rum, strawberry, brioche, Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth and Suze for one concoction. Berg and Kratena also personally transported Camu Camu, a fragile Peruvian fruit, to pair with Francinet-Remy Champagne.
Everything has been considered and curated so the guest can focus on the most important element: the people
According to their friend and partner for non-profit P(our), Jim Meehan, the significance of Tayēr means more than another elegant new space with creative cocktails. “After many years working in luxury, Alex and Monica have peeled everything back to its essentials, making it one of the greenest venues I’ve ever seen,” says Meehan. “Everything has been considered and curated so the guest can focus on the most important element: the people.”
At Tayēr + Elementary, Berg and Kratena harness the depth of their bartending experience to offer their vision of an ideal bar for both the staff and guests. Berg says, “So many people have said they feel at home here, and that’s really all we wanted in the first place.”