Readers Take the 25 Best Bars Challenge

One couple visited all of Indianapolis Monthly’s recommended bars—and lived to tell the tale.
Editor’s Note: In January 2013, the Indianapolis Monthly staff ranked its picks for the 25 Best Bars in the city. Two readers, Calvin Gunter and Jessica Stellhorn of Noblesville, visited each of the winners over the past year. Here they share the details of their adventure—and a ranking of their own.
As young professionals returning to Indianapolis in the fall of 2012, we saw that Indianapolis Monthly was a window into a world we never knew existed. This began with the first issue received in January 2013. That month’s Best Bars feature was taken as a challenge to step outside our “comfort zone” and experience Indianapolis in ways few do.
Twelve months later and 25 bars visited, we have a new appreciation for the true diversity Indianapolis possesses. Downtown, Massachusetts Ave., Broad Ripple, and Fountain Square (just to name a few) offer unique atmospheres exclusive to their respective subcultures. We’ve shared drinks with yuppies, hipsters, travelers, and suburbanites, walking away with memories to last a lifetime.
The question of which bar is our favorite is always asked when we share this story. To uphold this tradition, we have included our top 5and reasons whybelow. Thank you for the challenge, and enjoy!
No. 1 – The Rathskeller
No Indianapolis summer should be had without a visit to the Rathskeller biergarten. From 36-ounce German bier to disco-style polka and cigars, there is so much to love about the 401 E. Michigan St. joint. Tip: Stay and sing along to Somewhere Over the Rainbow as your nightcap.
No. 2 – The Libertine Liquor Bar
The Libertine Liquor Bar was stolen from Manhattan and airdropped onto 38 E. Washington St. Warning: It’s dark and the classic drinks are potent, making for a fun night. It’s also near the best hotels Indianapolis offers, if needed. Tip: Whatever your drink, order the bacon flight and chicken wings.
No. 3 – The Brass Ring
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely applies to this Fountain Square gem. The crowd looks intimidating but couldn’t be nicer, as TCM movies play within the vintage bar. Tip: Don’t underestimate the menu.
No. 4 – Tini
Oh, Tini. Fruit Loop shooters and Moscow Mules aside, Tini is Mass Ave’s MTV. Chances are your iPod playlist will be represented in at least one music video during a visit. Tip: Anticipate communal restrooms.
No. 5 – White Rabbit Cabaret
Lingerie, improv comedy, and audience participation collide in one unforgettable night when visiting the White Rabbit on a Friday. Get there early, get a drink, and expect the unexpected. Tip: Appreciate the art.
What do you think? Have a top-five ranking of your own? Do share!
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A native of Inman, South Carolina, Amanda Heckert graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and began her career in journalism as an intern at Atlanta magazine. She then edited Newcomer magazine, a monthly covering Atlanta real estate, entertainment, arts, dining, and education, and helped launch a sister publication, Atlanta School Guide.In 2006, Heckert returned to Atlanta magazine and worked her way up from associate editor covering fashion and lifestyle to senior editor. In that position, she edited and wrote features on topics such as Dasani bottled water and The Real Housewives of Atlanta; contributed to and edited the front-of-book; and edited service and non-service packages, including the September 2011 Hollywood Issue, nominated for a City and Regional Magazine Association Award.Heckert joined Indianapolis Monthly in February 2012 and enjoys getting to know the Circle City with her husband, writer Justin Heckert, and their dog, Cooper.