Bar Tab: Tayēr + Elementary, London

What is the point of ‘world’s best bars’ lists? In an eminently subjective world, does ranking venues in some sort of order hold any meaning? Or – as was the case on one recent Saturday evening at Tayēr + Elementary – do they just provide tourists with a handy list of must-visit places to drop into, have one drink, take a photo and leave? There’s nothing wrong with that, per se – bars need customers and are presumably happy to get the reach and the turnover of cash and tables. But it can lead to a vibe more in keeping with a hotel lobby, a railway café (if such places still exist) or just a stopping point on the way from and to somewhere else. Of course, on an early Saturday evening, most people are in between plans and as the east London afternoon slipped away in a procession of Lime bikes and taxis they continued to move on. Inside the bar, tables turned quickly – first up three generations of South American visitors, then a group of young students – with coats and drawstring bags still on their backs, but two Americans beside us seemed to be settling in for a while. At first, they appeared to bemoan their own million-pound salaries, until the relieved revelation (mine) that they were following the football scores and bemoaning the million-pound salaries of one of Manchester City’s mercenary galacticos in between one sip Martinis, mouthfuls of croquettes and koftas and before receiving a procession of brown and down drinks – each greeted with an awestruck “that looks amazing!”. The soundtrack was global hip hop, and our cocktails – two from the ‘core’ list: a sherbety and floral bergamot Margarita (both tequila and mezcal, fino sherry, vermouth and bergamot) and a flawless cherry sour (scotch, Empirical’s “The Plum I Suppose”, amontillado sherry, lemon and cherries); one from the ‘collab’ list: the Vetiver Vieux Carre featuring Muyu’s vetiver gris (is that self-collab?); and one from the ‘seasonal’ list: a maple old fashioned; were unimpeachable. But taking our time over two drinks each made it even more clear that most people were passing through with somewhere else to be. 2023’s 8th best bar? Done. (152 Old Street, London. @tayer_elementary). Read more Bar Tabs here.