When you picture Indiana and drinks, I’m betting the first thing that comes to mind is ice cold beer, especially on sweltering summer days. You’re not totally wrong: this Midwestern state is home to over 130 craft breweries and counting. (Emphasis on the “counting” part — I swear that by the time you read this, three more will have popped up.)
While the Hoosier state may be known for its craft beer, it’s got some hip craft cocktail bars and wineries as well. From Indianapolis to Franklin and back, here’s our list of hot spots to drink in Indiana right now.
Good For: Craft cocktails lovers and Kurt Vonnegut aficionados
Drink You Need To Order: Galapagos ($11), featuring mezcal, tequila, chili arbol syrup, Bluebeard orgeat, cucumber, and lime.
Why You Need To Visit: This spot just might be the Holy Grail of Indy’s cocktail scene, and that’s not just because Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. Yes, the restaurant is named after one of Vonnegut’s books, and yes, there are Vonnegut-inspired drinks on the menu. But what I loved was their diverse liquid offerings that pleased multiple palettes.
Erin of 10 Miles Behind Me enjoyed the Galapagos cocktail, whereas I opted for the Monkey House 2.0 ($10), which included bourbon, Cappelletti, Cocchi Americano, Jagermeister, lemon, orange, and cane sugar. We also shared the Jailbird ($11), which contained
Metazoa Brewing Co.
Good For: Boozehounds who like to enjoy a pint while chillin’ with Fido and his furry friends
Drinks You Need To Order: Chocolate Charlie (decadent stout with chocolate and cherry notes, 9.5% ABV); Kinkajou (wheat beer with honey flavors, 5.2% ABV)
Why You Need To Visit: “Drink beer. Help animals.” Pretty simple, right? Metazoa Brewing Co.’s philosophy really says it all. In addition to being pet-friendly and serving a delicious chocolate cherry imperial stout, Metazoa donates 5% of its profits to animal and wildlife organizations. This means you can absolutely feel good about your booze purchase, since you’re saving the world by helping racehorses and chimpanzees. Also, word on the street is that they have a pig who’s a regular. You’ve gotta love a place where even Wilbur feels like part of the family!
The Ball & Biscuit
Good For: Classics and original creations; second or third dates; that out-of-town friend you want to impress
Drink You Need To Order: Juan Another? ($11), featuring tequila, Huana Guanabana liqueur, cilantro, simple syrup, lime juice, and a pinch of salt.
Why You Need To Visit: This craft cocktail joint is “Indy’s original cocktail bar.” Open since June 2010, its name was inspired by an unusually-shaped microphone made in the 1930s. Our bartender, Keegan, was an entertaining show in and of itself: his mixing and shaking skills behind the bar were mesmerizing to watch. He made us a dynamic cocktail with bourbon in it — an excellent bartender’s choice cocktail — but truth be told, we didn’t write down all the ingredients because
we were watching his mad skills we just wanted to enjoy our drinks, dammit. In sum: go to this speakeasy not only because I say so, but because Esquire does, too.
Good For: Late-night taco binges and tiki drinks
Drink You Need To Order: Any mai tai or daiquiri will do, though they often have specials
Why You Need To Visit: If you want a really trippy, “secret” bar experience, look no further than Revolucion. We originally stopped by to satisfy our intense taco cravings, and were greeted by funky folk art decor (imagine Day of the Dead) and strong margaritas in this Mexican cantina. But the party really started when I went to the restroom and made a wrong turn coming back. OK, OK, that sounds more dramatic than it was. But seriously, it was like I fell down a tropical rabbit hole and wound up in the coolest tiki bar ever. The change in theme gave me cocktail whiplash, but whatever, the mai tai was divine. Plus, it opened out onto a relaxed outdoor patio space — perfect for warm summer nights.
Taxman Brewing Company
Good For: Craft beer enthusiasts seeking the next “it” brewery
Drink You Need To Order: Evasion, a 14.5% ABV barrel-aged Belgian-style stout.
Why You Need To Visit: Turns out that three of Taxman’s founders are, in fact, tax professionals. Their tax consulting work took them to Belgium, where it is mandated by law that you must drink beer and eat frites at all times and by no means continue crunching numbers, and thus Taxman was born. With the industrial feel of its interior and its extensive selection of brews, Taxman — which opened in 2014 — would be right at home next to any Seattle or Portland craft brewery. Plus, they’ve got my favorite beer that I’ve tasted in the past six months — which is seriously saying a lot.
Planetary Brewing Company
Good For: Craft beer lovers; wannabe astronauts; people who actually get obscure Star Wars references
Drink You Need To Order: Parallax Vanilla Porter (5.6% ABV), a delectable porter that’s sanitized in bourbon
Why You Need To Visit: Three words: Space-themed brewery. Launched into orbit in March 2013, Planetary Brewing was the second brewery established in Johnson County and the 63rd in Indiana. Planetary’s mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help consumers cruise through the “Universe of Beer” and check out all the different
planets beers. So go have fun checking them all out — I’ll be hanging out on Planet IPA.
Mallow Run Winery
Good For: People with a sweet tooth and beer lovers who are getting into wine
Wine You Need To Taste: Finale, a port-style dessert wine; 2016 Estate Red (Chambourcin, Leon Millot and Chancellor grapes, similar in body to Pinot Noir); 500 Canned Traminette
Why You Need To Visit: If canned wine is the “Drink of Summer 2017,” then Mallow Run is way ahead of the curve. They’ve been serving up canned wine like the 500 Canned Traminette (see above) for a while now, and they’re perfect gateway wines if you’ve only ever been into drinking beer. Mallow Run is known for their sweet wines: their top seller is actually the Rhubarb ($13), though they make non-dessert wines as well. They also hosts events at a gorgeous property called the Sycamore nearby, and their lively Picnic Concert Series runs throughout the summer.
Honorable Mentions… Plus A (3-Hour) Tour
This post is definitely not an exhaustive list of where to drink in Indiana, where new breweries seem to be popping up daily. Folks at the spots above recommended the following places to enjoy your liquid journeys:
- For cocktails: Libertine Liquor Bar, Hotel Tango, Spoke & Steele, Thunderbird, and Cardinal Spirits
- For beer: Mashcraft Brewing, Sun King Brewery, 3 Floyds Brewing Co., 18th Street Brewery, Upland Brewing Co.
- For wine: Oliver Winery and Huber Winery. Emily of Em’s on the Road has a great guide to the Indiana Uplands wine trail.
If you wanna imbibe but don’t want to drive, Indy Brew Bus has you covered. Each of their tours visit four local breweries, and they spend roughly 35 minutes at each location. (It’s not a three-hour tour, as Gilligan would say, but close enough, all right?) Tickets start at $30 per person. While we didn’t get to try one of their tours while we were there, we saw lots of the buses around town with hilarity ensuing (read: lots of people having a grand ol’ time!).
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Nearly all of these drinks were paid for by me, with the exception of Planetary Brewing and Mallow Run. Thank you to Journey Johnson County for hosting me there, and to Visit Indiana for connecting us. Thank you to Visit Indy for suggesting Revolucion. As always, all opinions are my own; no perfectly-made cocktail will ever change that.
Also, some of the above are affiliate links. This means I will earn a tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting It’s Five O’Clock Here!