Ian is the General Manager of Nola in London. He makes us two cocktails, one is rye whisky based and the other one uses scotch.
Ian introduce yourself
Hi I’m Ian and I’m the General Manager at Nola in London. I was studying photography at university and looking for a job on weekends. Bartending seemed to be a cool option… you meet new friends, girls looked at you, it was like a dream. Then I arrived in London where I could see that good bartenders make great money, are very professional and respected by everyone. It’s a real job. So I graduated and moved to London to become a bartender full time. Cocktails are about creativity, just like my passion for photography and designing a menu is an art form in itself. Callooh Callay was my favourite bar and I knew that I wanted to work there, so I did for few years. Then I had an opportunity to work in Japan for few months at a ski resort in Hokkaido and that’s where I learnt a lot about Japanese skills and spirits. I brought this knowledge back to Callooh. After another job in a bar/restaurant, I came here to Nola to develop a New Orleans style.
The classic you want to show us
50ml of Rye whisky
10ml of dry vermouth
10ml of sweet vermouth
2 barspoons of luxardo cherries syrup
2 dashes angustura bitters
1 dash of absinthe
The bar or party you dream of
It woud be a classic cocktail bar with a fun element to it, like in Callooh or Cocktail Trading Co. A relaxed atmosphere with occasional live music. It would be speakeasy style because that attracts the kind of customers I would want. I don’t want a party bar, so it would be a little hidden where people discover it by word of mouth. Two bar stations and around one hundred capacity, with proper food. I think you need food these days, because people stay longer and don’t get drunk too quickly. I’d also consider something more creative, like pairing the food and the drinks and of course the menu would change seasonally.
I am a man of habit and prefer to stay in East London and go to Callooh, Happiness forgets or Original Sin in the Dalston area. You can stay at the bar have a beer or a cocktail… that’s what I like.
The spirit you like the most
I like whisky. First it was about Japanese whisky after my Niseko job, but after I learnt more about American whiskies which I work with here in Nola. Especially Rye because it’s less sweet than bourbon, more spicy and adds more depth to a cocktail. Because of their amazing flavours you already have a larger spectrum to play with than a blank canvas like vodka.
What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
A good cocktail is something challenging with depth and a nice finish. It also depends on the person you are making it for. Some customers like drinks stirred and brown, but others prefer long refreshing drinks. At the end it’s finding the right drink for the right person I guess. You can’t generalize. It’s also about having a conversation, knowing the customers tastes and going out of the menu if necessary… being creative.
People who know me would say umushu or cordial, so let’s change that and go for sherry. My favourite one at this moment is Palo Cortado. It adds fruity elements, oxidisation and the flavour is fantastic. It works really well with citrus cocktails.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
35ml of blended scotch
35ml of mancino vermouth
15ml of fino sherry
1 dash of peach bitters
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
You should go to Sovereign Loss in Brixton owned by Chris Joe. It’s a speakeasy with a 24h licence, although it is closed between five am and six am. It’s a good place to go after service.