The hippest cocktail bars in Indianapolis pay homage to Indy’s most famous author with 11 Kurt Vonnegut-themed cocktails…
It’s been 10 years since the world lost legendary writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and Indianapolis, his birthplace & childhood home, is paying homage to the author by declaring 2017 the “Year of Vonnegut.” As part of the celebration, 11 of Indy’s hottest and hippest cocktail bars are giving a “Cheers to Vonnegut,” with a selection of Vonnegut-inspired cocktails on their menus from February through April 16th. (11 bars, 11 weeks- see what they did there.)
So if you’re looking a great excuse to visit the coolest bars in Indianapolis, take the this “Cheers to Vonnegut” trip through Indy. (Well, maybe let Uber handle the driving part. Or walk/bike… It’s only 4 miles.)
Note: Hotel Tango is not on the above map due to a 10-waypoint max on Google. It’s right by Bluebeard though, so you can find it easily while down in that neck of the woods.
Bluebeard’s “Breakfast of Champions”
In case you couldn’t tell by the fact the bar is named after a Vonnegut novel, Bluebeard loves Kurt. It’s no surprise they’d be more than willing to craft a unique, delicious cocktail to pay homage to their hero. Their “Breakfast of Champions,” drink takes a story about two old men and instead turns it into a sweet, cereal-infused cocktail with Laird’s Applejack, Amaro Montenegro, Amaro di Angostura, Honey, Lemon, Apple Jack-infused half n half and Wheaties sugar rim.
The Ball ’n Biscuit’s “Purely Coincidental”
Titled from a line in Timequake, Vonnegut’s last novel, Ball ’n Biscuit takes Kurt’s favorite drink, scotch & water, and gives it a tasty twist. The “Purely Coincidental,” consists of Label 5 Blended Scotch Whiskey, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Plantation Pineapple Rum, a little pomegranate grenadine, 2 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters, all stirred and strained into a Pernod Absinthe rinsed coupe glass with a garnish of lemon swath.
Libertine’s “The Hartke”
Vonnegut fans know Rob Roy in Hocus Pocus is named after the “Rob Roy” cocktail, but Libertine thought Rob’s father should share his name with a drink too. Now he does: the Hartke. We think the fictional character would love this cocktail of Coconut Green Tea-infused Benromach Single Malt Scotch, Cocchi di Torino, Giffard Banané du Bresil, Xocolatl Mole Bitters & a pinch of smoked salt.
Spoke & Steele’s “Not Kilgore’s Drano”
Kilgore Trout is killed by drano in Breakfast of Champions, so we suppose someone could just throw some drano in a shot glass, but serving poison to your patrons isn’t a great business model for a cocktail bar. That’s why Spoke & Steele created the anti-drano solution with their “Not Kilgore’s Drano.” Another drink using Vonnegut’s favorite liquor, the “Not Kilgore’s Drano,” takes Bank Note Scotch and adds Rittenhouse Rye, lemon, thyme agave syrup, 2 drops of saline solution, a little activated charcoal, cayenne pepper, and thyme garnish
Platt 99’s “Armageddon in Retrospect”
Named for a collection of short stories, Platt 99’s “Armageddon in Retrospect” starts with Starlight Bourbon and adds spiced persimmon syrup, lemon juice, apple cider liqueur, and orange bitters. (For you diehard Hoosiers, you’ll also love to know Starlight Bourbon uses good ol’ Indiana corn.)
Hotel Tango’s “Sherman Krebbs”
In terms of house-sitters, the cat-killing nihilist Sherman Krebbs from Cat’s Cradle is about as bad as they get. The Sherman Krebbs cocktail, however, is downright delicious. (And Hotel Tango won’t kill your cat. In fact, they have their own wandering around.) The artisan distillery combines hibiscus-infused gin, lemon, green tea simple syrup and garnishes it all with a clip of “meow”. Oh, we almost forgot the best part… The Sherman Krebbs also comes with a little cat figure floating in the glass.
Named for Vonnegut’s book questioning the evolutionary process of humans, Thunderbird’s “Galapagos” cocktail will make you think you’re on a tropical island and not stuck in the midwest in the middle of winter. Their islandy cocktail features Don Q Cristal Rum, Angostura 5yr Rum, Agricole Rhum, lime, pineapple, allspice, spiced honey, and celery root.
Dorman Street Saloon’s “Sirens of Titan”
An Indy institution since 1908, Dorman Street Saloon takes Vonnegut’s book of free will and alien invasions and translates it into a grapefruit flavored cocktail. While the characters in the book are constantly trying to make the best of their situations, we think the “Sirens of Titan” cocktail itself can make any situation a little better. The drink mixes Mezcal, Suze, grapefruit juice, hopped grapefruit bitters, rosemary simple, and prosecco to make a unique and satisfying cocktail.
1933’s “And So it Goes”
The cocktail lounge of Indy’s famous St. Elmo Steakhouse takes one of Vonnegut’s most common sayings and pairs it with a version his favorite drink. The “And So it Goes” is crafted by rinsing a rocks glass with Talisker 10-year scotch, adding a large ice cube, and then pouring Basil Hayden bourbon over the ice cube.
Black Market’s “Amber Moment”
Inspired by Slaughterhouse Five’s concept of living in the moment, Black Market’s “Amber Moment” shakes Monkey Shoulder Scotch, benedictine, Dolin Génépy des Alpes, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, passionfruit syrup, OJ, lemon, and 2 dashes Angostura Bitters and pours it on the rocks with maple candy and lemon twist garnishes. We’re pretty sure that’s a good “moment” to be living in. In fact, we think we could go for more than one “Amber Moment”s.
Milktooth’s “Player Piano”
In Player Piano, workers are replaced by machines, but machines don’t come anywhere near the cocktail bearing its name at Milktooth. An ode to human craftsmanship, the “Player Piano” is a sweet cocktail of Dalmore Cigar Malt scotch, amarantillo sherry, brown sugar cranberry caramel, heavy shake orange bitters and an egg white all reverse shaken and strained over a salted coconut water cube.
So grab your favorite Kurt Vonnegut novel off the shelf and head out to try all 11 cocktails.
Of course, you should also check out the massively expanded Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library when it opens in its new location on April 8th.
From the Vonnegut Library:
The new location, a 5,400 square foot building, will provide more space for KVML’s large collection, much of which is currently in storage due to lack of space. With expanded galleries at 646 Mass Ave, the Vonnegut Library will be able to also launch two new exhibitions: an interactive Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition and a permanent exhibition centered on banned books and censorship.
On April 8, 2017, KVML will celebrate its grand opening and a renaming as The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. “When the Vonnegut Library opened five years ago, it introduced a whole new generation to the life’s work of one of our city’s finest native sons,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “The Library has been recognized as one of the things that makes Indianapolis so distinct. It is such a rare place, and indeed one of our great treasures.”
For more happenings in Indy or for help planning your next trip, hop over to Visit Indy.
For even more info on the bars and bartenders behind the “Cheers to Vonnegut” collaboration, check out this page.