Alex Kratena Monica Berg Elementary

Alex Kratena & Monica Berg unveil bar plans

10 December, 2018

Alex Kratena and Monica Berg will launch their first solo London venue in Spring 2019, it has been exclusively revealed to Drinks International’s sister publication Class.

The opening follows Monica Berg's work with the award-winning Himkok in Oslo and comes three years after Alex Kratena left the four-time winner of The World’s 50 Best Bars, Artesian.

Simone Caporale, Kratena’s partner at Artesian, had been expected to be a part of the bar venture, but has stepped aside to work on the trio's shared consultancy business in Asia.

The site on Old Street in east London is the redevelopment of an old post office comprising three spaces: two bars - Elementary and Tayēr - and a creative studio called Outthink.

“It’s not a cocktail bar, it’s a bar, ” Berg told Class, explaining that while there will be cocktails there won’t be a liquid hierarchy at their multi-space venue.


A computer-generated image of how Elementary will look when it opens

Elementary, which is visible from the street through floor-to-ceiling windows, will open up into a more casual space with walk-ins from as early as 11.30am. It’ll serve coffee and snacks, seasonal cocktails, beer, cider and wine.

The cocktails in Elementary will be approachably priced – starting at £7.50 – and will be served from taps. The pair collaborated with Taptails to bring a bespoke system in which carbonation and temperature can be controlled for every cocktail that passes through its pipes.

Seasonal, sustainable produce will be the foundation of their offering and in Elementary; ingredients used in cocktails will ebb and flow with farmers’ harvests.

“We have created a seasonal calendar, which will be a feature of the design,” said Kratena. “Within each season we will concentrate on 20 categories, such as berries, stalks, seeds, grain and flowers – it’s what grows in the UK.”

Berg, a proponent of supporting UK farmers, says the bar will be hyper-local. “If a supplier has 10kg of plums from Kent, we will be able to put a drink on the menu for a few days,” she said. “One of the biggest problems for small farmers and producers is that they find it hard to sell in such small amounts. It’s also a privilege to work with products at the peak of their condition.”


Tayēr will feature a larger bar with custom stations and an open kitchen

Tayēr is the more abstract, indefinable space that many will have expected of the pair. “It means workshop in Spanish,” says Kratena. “Here we will have total freedom to evolve as it has no fixed concept – an always changing space,” he says.

The focus of Tayēr will be more on what’s inside the glass and on the plate, with more experienced bartenders holding court, such as the already recruited Greg Almeida, formerly of Scarfes Bar.

Don't expect Artesian 2.0, Kratena told Class, pointing towards a scaled-back approach to presentation.

The drinks making processes will not be simple, but the format of service will be. “We have all the equipment a bartender could want but it’s all out of sight," said Kratena. "We have taken the creative work completely out of operations. When you are in operations you are there for the guests,” he said.

Berg added: “It might have been rotavaped with unicorns but we will not tell you unless you want to know. Our drinks will be driven by flavour – that’s all you need to know.”

In terms of style: “Complex but light,” said Kratena. “It’s very easy to throw together a lot of heavy ingredients to achieve complexity, but it’s very difficult to achieve complexity with light flavours.”


Outthink is the venue's third space but will be mostly closed to the public

At Tayēr's rear will be the studio Outthink, a lab, workspace and private hire venue, which will open up to customers on busy nights.

For the feature-length interview that appears in the latest edition of Class click here.

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