Partygoers relished the vodka- and bourbon-centric drinks crafted by makers representing Indy's top 25 drinking establishments (as decided by IM) at the Best Bars Party on Jan. 31. Guests also enjoyed delightful hors d'oeuvres made by students at the in-house Ivy Tech Culinary School.
A trio of judges debated intently the merits of each drink in choosing their Critics’ Choice winners, opting to choose the top 3 among all makers. The critics were Jen of Southern Wine & Spirits Indiana, chef Thom England of Ivy Tech Culinary School, and IM's own Evan West, executive editor. Champions were chosen based on the following criteria, with each bar rated on a scale from 1 to 10: visual appeal, creativity/originality, inventiveness of ingredients, and the balance of flavors and taste. Those winners here:
No. 1: The Ball & Biscuit
Cocktail: Corned Fizz, comprised of Bulleit rye bourbon, organic honey/corn water, orange bitters, egg white, and champagne
Judges' comments: "An inventive use of the farm crop Indiana is famous for, executed with urban sophistication and a delightful, effervescent finish."
No. 2: 1933 Lounge
Drink: Repeal Day Sour, comprised of Bulleit bourbon, Wilks & Wilson almond syrup, lime juice, and egg white
Judges' comments: "Masterfully prepared—a supremely balanced concoction showcasing the smoky complexity of bourbon and subtle sweetness of the locally crafted almond syrup."
No. 3: Metro Nightclub & Restaurant
Drink: Metro Fashion, comprised of Bulleit rye bourbon, Dry Vermouth, and house-made brown sugar syrup
Judges' comments: "Tall, dark, and sexy. The house-made brown sugar syrup gives it a velvety finish, and the addition of star anise and artfully cut lemon peel as garnish makes for an attractive cocktail."
The People's Choice winner on the night was The Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant from the perspective of those populating the Stouffer Hotel's 2nd-floor ballroom.
Congrats to the victors, and to all of the mix-off's participating bars: Aristocrat, The Ball & Biscuit, Bluebeard, The Brass Ring Lounge, Dorman Street Saloon, Metro Nightclub & Restaurant, The Northside Social, Nicky Blaine's, St. Elmo's 1933 Lounge, Syd's Fine Food & Spirits, Tini, and The Vogue.
More establishments sent owners, managers, and representatives to the Best Bars recognition ceremony in the Stouffer Hotel's 13th-floor penthouse ahead of the public party. The Chatterbox Jazz Club regaled revelers courtesy of a live jazz trio's music for the duration of the two-hour public event.
PHOTOS: Pre-party and public event galleries, for your enjoyment.
Photos by Tony Valainis