This is not just another Shoreditch bar. Well, it is — it’s right in Rivington Street (and you can’t get more Shoreditchy than that) but it's not Shoreditch as we know it. NOLA is New Orleans. In East London.
Bucking the basement bar trend, this Louisiana living room is tucked away upstairs, a flight above the beats of Bedrooom Bar. It oozes smooth blues, ceiling fans, wooden floors and laid back booths. The whitewashed walls, mirrors, windows (and plans for a balcony) breathe air and space into the intimate venue, which is set up for table-service, but there’s still enough room to swing a hyperactive cat.
In the later hours, candles emerge and the piano comes alive in honour of the USA's most fun-loving city. It goes without saying that the drinks here are for serious contenders only, with hard classics (sazerac, grasshopper), an array of twisted hurricanes and signature tipples, all shaken up by an expert team, including charming Parisian Charles and appearances by the talented Davide Segat (formerly of Hawksmoor and Bulgari Hotel).
And there's more. Dirty smoker? No problem, there's a terrace for when you want to puff your poison. Hungry? In a couple of weeks, there'll be plenty of simple, southern style dishes, currently being prepped by a Michelin starred, New Orleans native. Stopping out? After midnight, it’s members only. It's free to apply, just be nice (as in, don’t be an asshat) and you're in.
This is no gimmick. NOLA articulates a genuine love for The Big Easy — the food, culture and the people who inhabit it. Co-owner Dan Priseman explains: "We've taken so much inspiration from there — how could we not give something back?" As such, a pound from every hurricane you imbibe will be donated to relief efforts that are still ongoing after the wake of Katrina. And that sexy membership we were telling you about? Once accepted into the fold, you'll be asked to make a voluntary donation, with proceeds going towards equally worthy Stateside charities.
Booking is recommended, or just rock up, for comfort food, great music and cracking concoctions. It’s going to be big.
Another French 75, if you please.
NOLA is at 66-68 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY