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That Lord of the Lists known as Buzzfeed featured Indianapolis in its recent rundown of “12 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs To Visit.” The compilation covers bars from such illuminated cities as New York and Paris, also going across the pond to Dublin and Spain. Each bar is paired with a legendary author who relished it. Commence your rejoicing, Kurt Vonnegut fans.
The Broad Ripple faithful know well the history of Red Key Tavern, and they take pride in calling such a vaunted watering hole their own. There’s something special about catching up over drinks in the same spot where Vonnegut used to linger. Or to be present in a place explored in Dan Wakefield’s best-selling novel, Going All the Way. (Side note: Wakefield’s recent editing job, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, just became available in paperback.) Another factor cannot be denied: It's simply a perfect neighborhood bar.
Red Key Tavern's consistency is, well, key: Its barkeeps uphold owner Russel Settle's unique standards put in place more than 60 years ago, abided by literary titans and everyday folks alike. The stories that have poured out of this bar throughout the years feel nostalgic and iconic—and always entertaining. It seems the key to the heart of Indy bars will always be red.
Lists are lists, but it's high time Red Key Tavern was recognized on such a marquee roster. The bar landed among Esquire's Best Bars in 2011, and a year ago it came in at No. 4 on our own Best Bars list.
So here's to the past, with a knowing wink to the future. For the regulars at Red Key Tavern, it's all about the present.
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