Olympic borough Hackney launches its own-brand fizz Dalston Cola


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The Independent Football

Dazed & Confused recently based a whole issue around a question. Is east London dead, it asked? The contention being that the area, once a crucible of art, design and general bearded coolness had taken the Olympic-sponsors' shillings and lost its way in the world. The artisanal party, according to some, has gone elsewhere.

A fightback has begun, though, with the birth of a new drink. Called Dalston Cola, its launch last night, at the small slightly ramshackle Ridley Road Market Bar, was touted as a symbolic two fingers to the world's most popular cola, which is one of the big boy sponsors, a couple of miles away at the Olympic park.

"There is a lot of heavy marketing going on close to where we live, so we thought this would be a good time to launch," says Duncan O'Brien, who with fellow mid-twentysomething Steve Wilson, created the drink seven months ago while working in a different bar.

The drink uses caffeine-rich kola nuts and only a touch of sugar to give a "zesty" mix, which is then hand carbonated, which effectively means putting the mixture in a big jar and shaking it like the clappers. It is, as you might expect, not much like its more famous kinsman.

Neither are its finances. Like the E5 Bakehouse before it, which started on a shoestring and is now one of the most well-regarded in the capital, O'Brien is funding the enterprise out of his own "meagre pay packet".

Despite what the naysayers might claim and – as the Olympic project with its famous carbonated partner begins to make its final descent – there may be some entrepreneurial life in the old east London dog yet. And we can all drink to that.