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Drinking Cocktails with Vonnegut in Indianapolis

IMG_1848I had a chance to visit Indianapolis recently as a guest of I gave a talk about the Gin and Tonic, but the rest of the time ran around to the bars trying all the cocktails I could. 

The city is celebrating the Year of Vonnegut to commemorate 10 years since Kurt Vonnegut's passing. A new, larger museum will be opening later in 2017, but in the meantime the top cocktail bars are running Cheers to Vonnegut specials named after his work.

This list of drinks is also a great list of 'great places to drink in Indy.' Plus, the weather was perfect during my visit so it gave me plenty of time to walk around and explore the city outside of the bars as well. 

Eleven bars are involved in Cheers to Vonnegut, and I was able to hit nine of them (plus a few venues not on the list). Many of them involved scotch whisky, because they say that was a favorite of the author. 

So let me review my Instagram account and see what they were:


Not Kilgore's Drano at Spoke and Steele

My hotel had a pretty sweet bar, where companies can buy private barrels of barrel-aged cocktails. Not only did I have the Vonnegut drink, they sent a barrel up to my room as a welcome treat. Well done. 

This cocktail has scotch, rye, lemon, thyme agave syrup, saline, and activated charcoal. (For a good analysis of activated charcoal in cocktails, see this article.)




Purely Coincidental at ball & biscuit

This super busy bar was one of Indy's earliest cocktail bars, and looks like a music venue except there's not concert room in the back.  The Purely Coincidental contains scotch, Swedish Punsch, pineapple rum, grenadine, bitters, and absinthe. 


Breakfast of Champions at Bluebeard

I mean. The garnish on this cocktail is Vonnegut's illustration of a butthole. The drink contains applejack, amaro Montenegro, Amaro di Angostura, honey, lemon, and Apple Jacks-infused half-n-half.  It was probably my favorite drink of the list. The restaurant itself is beautiful/cool too and I'm going to try to eat there the next time I'm in town. 



Armageddon in Retrospect at Plat 99

The big upstairs bar at the Alexander Hotel has beautiful views in an impressive designer space. This cocktail contains bourbon, persimmon syrup, lemon, apple cider liqueur, and orange bitters. It was bright and delicious. 




Galápagos at Thunderbird

This cocktail from one of Indy's top cocktail spots has three kinds of rum, lime, pineapple, allspice, and honey, plus FIRE. It was a top-selling drink at the bar, for good reason. 




The Hartke at The Libertine

My first drink in Indy was at The Libertine, a cool basement-like cocktail bar with creative cocktails and an interesting mix of hipsters and weekend warriors on the night of my visit.  The Hartke has scotch, green tea, coconut, banana liqueur, mole bitters, and salt. 




And So it Goes... at 1933 Lounge

1933 Lounge is the upstairs bar at  St. Elmo Steakhouse, an iconic steakhouse for people into that sort of thing. The bar is surprisingly large and filled with the corporate card crowd.

This cocktail seemed a good fit: It is literally just a big pour of bourbon with a splash of smoky scotch, served over an ice cube with a lemon peel garnish. I can drink that. 




Amber Moment at Black Market

Black Market is a narrow restaurant packed with people dining at long central tables and a back bar stocked with so, so much booze. Much of it is rum from Martinique. For the Vonnegut drink, however, they turned to scotch, plus Benedictine, genepy, sweet vermouth, passionfruit, orange, and lemon juices, and bitters. The drink was garnished with a slice of edible "amber." Not everyone gets a Vonnegut finger puppet to accompany the drink - I'm just special. 



Player Piano at Milktooth

 Word on the street is that Milktooth is the buzziest restaurant in town, which is pretty unique for a place only open for breakfast and lunch that serves things like broccoli waffles. They offer both breakfast-identified cocktails and more traditionally-nighttime ones (despite not being open at night), including the Player Piano. It has scotch, amontillado sherry, 'brown sugar cranberry caramel', orange bitters, and egg white.



BookmarkThe Two I Missed

I didn't make it to the Hotel Tango distillery and bar for their cocktail. Actually I made it to their distillery to peek around, but I didn't have time to grab the cocktail. The drink, called Sherman Krebbs, is made with gin, lemon, and green tea syrup.

At Dorman Street Saloon,  the Sirens of Titan cocktail contains mezcal, Suze, grapefruit juice and hopped grapefruit bitters, plus rosemary and prosecco. 


That's All Folks!

Thanks to all the bartenders and to for a great trip. Should you be hitting up Indy any time soon, download the bookmark from the Cheers to Vonnegut page and stay the course.