Test Driving Tayer and Elementary - cocktails, sandos and more are a winning combination

foodanddrinkThe day boat fish tartar with tobiko dressing and yuzu (£18) from TA TA, paired with the Elementary Vetiver in the background. 

What can you tell us about Tayer + Elementary?

It's from Alex Kratena, top bartender and the man who brought Artesian at the Langham to the top of the World's Best Bars list four years in a row - a record that has not been matched. This is his first bar since he left Artesian, so expectations are sky high. He's teamed up with fellow top mixologist Monica Berg and on the food front has brought in TA TA Eatery. So there's a lot to get excited about here. 

It's a bar of two halves?

It is indeed. The front bar is Elementary, a slightly more casual affair, while the main cocktail bar Tayer is in the back. 

Where is it?

On Old Street itself, just a few minutes walk from Old St station towards Clerkenwell.

seasonalThe wall of seasonal produce - note that rhubarb is marked. 

So tell us about Elementary first

This is where their all-day offering is. It's all counter seating (although both sides of the counter, so it's good for groups of more than two) and they also have some quite funky swivel stools (we get excited by that sort of thing). In Elementary, there's a slightly wider focus on the drinks front. Starting with the cocktails, they're a combination of a core list and some seasonal additions. If you look to the left as you come into the bar, you'll see a wall highlighting what's in season at the time (see above). The drinks are pre-made, so it's all quite speedy. 

The cocktails here are twists on classics. So there's a Whey Sour (Tayer Vodka, Tayer Aquavit, Cocchi Americano + whey - £9) or a Palo Santo Gimlet (Tayer & Hepple gin, Tio Pepe fino, Lillet Blanc, Palo Santo cordial - £9). And one of the most enticing drinks (we'll have to go back for it) is the one-shot martini (Tayer vodka, Martini Ambrato Bianco, Una Palma Fino, blue cheese olive) - which comes in at £4. 

As for our choices...

coffeeDestined to be one of the more popular drinks - the Elementary Frozen Coffee (Havana Club Rum, Coffee Liqueur, Coffee, Coconut milk and condensed milk - £8). We'll be honest that it's not the easiest thing to drink - waiting for it to slowly melt is the key, but it is really quite special. Don't have too many of these if you want to sleep again.

oldfashionedAlso from Elementary, the Nordic Old Fashioned (Stauning Rye, Tayer Aquavit, Cedarwood - £10). We love a good Old Fashioned and this was right up there with the best.

On top of the cocktails, there's a beer selection, a small wine list, alongside softs. Bottomless coffee comes in at £3.50, so if you want a day of coffee and sandos, this might be the place for you.

As for the food - there is a smaller TA TA menu available at Elementary. And yes, this includes their sando as well as a Quesadilla (braised ox cheek, seasonal herb salad, mint yoghurt - £9.50), anchovy soldiers, a cheese toastie and burrata and seaweed on flatbread. We ate in Tayer - so we'll get on to the food in a moment.

libraryThe main table at the back in Tayer that will be used for masterclasses, as a communal table or can be booked up for a group. 

And then through to Tayer?

Yes, Tayer is the main cocktail bar - a larger space at the back of the building. Most of the area is taken up by the central bar, surrounded by the main counter. But in addition to that, there's a separate "chef's table" area that's in front of the kitchen, with five spaces and the larger table at the back of the room (see above). 

kitchenWe love the story behind the central station of the bar. It's all made-to-fit multiple hexagon shapes that can be changed in and out to give the staff a flexible area to work through - and stops them having to bend under the counter whenever they need something. They apparently originally created this as a life-size mock-up in cardboard, and then the whole bar was rendered in virtual reality - so they could fine-tune the whole area more (shaving some space in the process so it's easier to move around). Impressive. 

And how about the cocktails at Tayer?

This is really where all the main cocktail action is at. Nothing is pre-mixed here and the central counter bar is a great opportunity to talk to the bar staff and get something that matches your taste - and that also best matches any food that you've ordered. None of the drinks has a name as such, but for each of them the key ingredient is highlighted in bold, and therefore that's its default name (makes it easier to order than describing the whole drink). 

Here's what we had:

vetiverThis is the drink that you'll see most people ordering. It's Noilly Prat dry vermouth, Campari, Muyu Vetiver Gris, Del Maguey Mezcal Vodka. (£12). It's as close as you'll get to a Negroni at Tayer, but so much better than that. And the little mountain of ice makes the drink look amazing. 

plumTayer Infinity Tequila, Plum, Muyu Chinotto Nero + Zucca Rabarbaro (£12.50).  A simple presentation but incredibly complex to drink. And note the water glass made for Tayer. Each of these is modelled around the bark of a tree - so each glass is unique.  

rhubarbThe seasonal cocktail in Tayer - Zucca Rabarbaro, Bache-Gagrielsen Pineau des Charentes, rhubarb and soda (£10.50) 

And Tayer is where the main food menu is?

Yes, although TA TA Eatery provides a cut-down menu for Elementary, you'll have access to the full list of offerings in Tayer. The core items on the menu are the amazing Iberian pork sando, the quesadilla, flatbread and the rice dish (see below for that). And alongside those will be regularly changing specials. In addition to what we had below, there was also Cuttlefish "Cho Mein" (£15), a whole aged Dover sole with pil-pil (£35) and 100-day salt-aged old spot pork with seaweed, caramel and garum (£17). Expect this list to change regularly. 

Here's what we had from TA TA:

sandoThis is what many see as the main event on the TA TA menu - the Iberian pork sando with raspberry jam and XO shallot sauce (£14.50). We had heard many great things about this, but this was our first time actually trying it. Would it live up to stratospheric expectations? Yes, and then some. Definitely up there with the best sandwiches we've ever eaten and justifies all the hype - the juicy pork almost defies description. Just marvellous. 

beef2Another dish on the core menu, the raw 160 day-aged Dexter rib, shallot rice and egg yolk (£19.50). Like a next-level steak tartare with the rice gently warming the beef.

painperduThis was dessert on our visit - brioche pain perdu, with floral creme fraiche. The dessert goes particularly well with the "Oakmoss" cocktail, that you see in the background. That's Tayer Highland whisky, Leiten Linie Aquavit, Oakmoss, Curatalo Arini Dry Marsala and topped with just a drop of sesame oil that really enhances the drink £12.  

Overall thoughts

We've been eagerly awaiting Tayer + Elementary for some months now, having had a chance to visit the site right before work started. With some utterly wonderful cocktails (and really pretty keenly priced, given the high quality) alongside a cracking TA TA Eatery menu, this is a must-visit, we think. One of the key openings of the year, hands-down.

Alongside The Gibson and Nightjar, this little stretch of Old Street is serving up some of the very best cocktails in town - a dangerous cocktail-crawl beckons, we think. 

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Tayer and Elementary. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Tayér + Elementary

Where is it? 152 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BJ

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @tayer_elementary


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