A Sazerac Named Desire: NOLA

By Janan Jay Last edited 60 months ago
A Sazerac Named Desire: NOLA

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

Last Updated 20 May 2013


I love how all of these reviews are written by people who were sat down and pampered with free drinks and excellent service because they are writing a review. . . and the review usually turns out great, as is expected within these hospitality/PR exchanges.
But for the rest of us, the normal folk, who actually drink in bars and frequent them as customers, not guests, we have to endure the regular service, the normal or even higher prices and the usual attitude of the venue during normal hours when there is no sign of a journalist in sight.
And in regards to this bar, I will have to say that the service was dreadful (45 minute wait for table service), cocktails well over-priced (£11 for a house sour?!) and the atmosphere created by the staff was rude, boisterous and as pretentious as their customer "service". ...that is, if you manage to even get past the doormen downstairs who bag search you and make you throw away your water bottle after queuing for 15 minutes with all the other teenagers who want to rave downstairs- have i already mentioned we were going entering an 'upmarket' cocktail bar?
I would avoid this bar at all costs. They have no intention on creating any sort of " new orleans vibe", or any vibe at all. Ive been to New Orleans, many times and I can never see a place like this existing within its culture...Nola only seem interested in ripping normal people off so they can filter through the pretentious shoreditch trendies from those of us who know the actual mark up on a drink and how much the value for service is worth. Other than if the world was ending, NOLA was the only bar standing, you were stuck on rivington street and in dire need of an alcoholic drink for survival, no matter what the cost, I cant see any reason why rational people would return here. (other than to wonder how many hole-in-one shots actually hit the bulls-eye on that waitress's back...)


This bar is a waste of time and a poor addition to the thriving Shoreditch scene. The only thing alluring about it is late opening at weekends, but be warned, you'll be rushed by wired staff who are provoking and unhelpful. The cocktail menu looks very intriguing until you taste them and they are horrible. 'Katie Darling' and 'Sazerac' are virtually undrinkable. I was left feeling ill the next day, emotionally from their snobby service and physically from their sickening cocktails.