Swinging jazz beats, Cajun deep fried chicken, Creole soul food, fine whiskies, Louisiana cocktails and 16 rotating taps serving local, interstate and international craft beers: it’s fair to say NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) has brought a heady, intoxicating mix to Adelaide’s now thriving bar scene. It sees the vibrant traditions and atmosphere of the Deep South transplanted to an East End alleyway, with the added bonus of one of the best selections of beer on tap in Australia.
The road to NOLA began in NOLA itself, when Oli Brown, one of the bar's four owners, fell in love with the city’s scene and decided to replicate it back in their hometown. What's more, he and mates Alex Marschall, Josh Talbot and Matt Orman had long wanted to sink their teeth into the craft beer industry so, in 2013, the search began for a suitable venue. After a few knock backs, they were finally gifted a chance in an old horse stables dating back to 1903, next to Adelaide’s Stag Hotel.
They took possession of an empty shell in early 2015 and swiftly got to work adding archways, dark wooden benches, tables and shrubbery before painting the venue in pastel colours to bring the New Orleans theme to life. Along the way, they capitalised on the popularity of crowd-funding in the beer world, launching a Pozible campaign to raise the money needed to install their tap system.
Their “Tipping for Taps” campaign exceeded its target of $15,000, meaning they have promised never to contract any of their 16 taps and instead focus on craft breweries, with one exception. Businesses or individuals could “purchase” a tap for six months as part of the fundraiser, allowing them to choose what would pour through it during that period. According to Alex, this helped them stay informed as to what was new on the market in their early days, with tap owners looking for new and exciting beers to showcase.
As well as the 16 taps, NOLA boasts a large variety of bottled and canned beers and an incredibly diverse stash of Australian and American whiskies and bourbons. The kitchen is never quiet either, with the chefs pumping out Cajun style bites and Creole soul food every night of the week, all influenced by the French and Spanish communities that initially called New Orleans home. The old school boilermaker is a feature at NOLA too, offering guests a shot of whisk(e)y strategically complemented by beer and food, thus creating a sensory overload in the drinker’s mouth.
There will be plenty who’ve soaked up New Orleans’ unique ambience and dreamed of recreating it back home; few, however, who have done anything about it. But these four young guys have captured many of the Louisiana city’s bar and club scene’s appealing quirks and forged them anew in the unlikely surrounds of Adelaide's East End. As a result, party goers can get a taste of the South by doing little more than heading down the happening little alleyway that is Vardon Avenue, looking for the glowing neon sign, and stepping inside.