In Conversation with Alex Kratena and Monica Berg of London’s Tayēr + Elementary

In Conversation with Alex Kratena and Monica Berg of London’s Tayēr + Elementary

Alex Kratena and Monica Berg talk us through the making of their award-winning London cocktail bar: Tayēr + Elementary

First off, how did you get here? Talk us through the path that got you guys to where you are today.

We have both been in the bar business our entire life. Monica started in bars and nightclubs in Oslo, where she is from. I left the Czech Republic as soon as I turned 18 and bartending took me all over the world. We met in London, but our first date was during an industry convention in New Orleans. The rest is history.

How has the bartending profession changed over the years? Is it perceived any differently nowadays?

The perspective of our job has changed. The old-time distinctions between professions have shifted and so has the role of drinking. As much as there is interest in food, there is an equal interest in what people drink. I can’t think of a city that doesn’t have a great cocktail bar now. There has been an intense focus on drinks in the last 15 years, from craft beer to third-wave coffee, to natural wine and cocktail bars. From cocktail books and blogs to magazines and TV shows. The popularity of chefs and cuisine has hugely helped to increase the average person’s knowledge and produced some really passionate and sophisticated drink aficionados in the process.

There’s far more to the bartending profession than slinging cocktails. What, in your opinion, makes a good bartender?

A good bartender is first of all a good listener, it is a person who always sees the glass half full and makes people’s day better every single time. A good bartender is a nice person with a great sense of empathy.

By the same token, what makes a good bar?

The beautiful thing about bars is diversity; there are thousands of different bars for different people. What might be seen as an awesome feature of one bar could be a flaw in the next one. A good bar is a combination of a thousand different details all executed brilliantly; a place that makes you feel good. That could be down to great bartenders, fantastic drinks, excellent music, fun atmosphere, spectacular views, or all of the above. A good bar is a place where you pop in for one and five hours later you are still there having a good time.

Speaking of great bars; tell us a little bit about the philosophy behind Tayēr + Elementary. What was the inspiration behind the concept?

Our latest project, Tayēr + Elementary, is a culmination of our ideas, life experiences, taste in design, and opinions on drinks and what makes a great gastronomic experience. As for concepts, it offers two different concepts in one. Elementary is an all-day bar serving tasty seasonal drinks, bottomless coffee, and tasty snacks. Tayēr, on the other hand, is a progressive bar where ingredients inspire everything we do. We combine modern techniques with long-established practices to create drinks and food that express freshness, quality, and the sheer simplicity of our ingredients.

What has been the most important lesson you guys have learned from moving from behind the bar to running your own businesses?

The biggest lesson learned is this: when you don’t know, ask for help! Also, things will never go as planned, so embrace the change, accept the chaos, but stay true to yourself.

Credit to Will Halbert, Essential Journal.

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