No. 6: Hotel Tango

One of the city’s first distilleries is also one of its most comfortable hangouts.

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0715_BARS_stillWhen one of the city’s first distilleries set up shop in Fletcher Place last fall, you could be forgiven for assuming it had always been there. Situated near Bluebeard and Rook in a gutted 1890s carriage house (if you look closely, you can still see hitching rings in the walls), Hotel Tango feels right at home among the bohemian haunts serving near-southside hipsters. A large stone fireplace anchors the center of the barroom, with exposed wooden joists and coal-mine lighting fixtures above. In one corner, copper stills swell with batches of fresh gin, vodka, rum, limoncello, and moonshine. Barrels and crates make up some of the furniture.

Co-owner Travis Barnes, a Marine Corps veteran, named the establishment with the military codes for H (for his wife, Hillary) and T (for himself). And the lineup of artisanal liquors with smartly designed labels would be a welcome addition to any officer’s lounge. Bartenders fill Ball jars mostly with off-menu concoctions rather than serving a set list. On a recent visit, a nameless cocktail of orange and lemon juice, limoncello, vodka, orgeat, and egg white made for an indulgent after-dinner morsel.

Special attention is paid here to local ingredients. The blackberries in the Gin Bravo often come from Spencer Berry Farm in Noblesville. Almost all of the mixers originate at some independent market within a 20-mile radius. A little precious? Maybe. But in a city overwhelmed by craft brewers, it’s nice to see someone doing spirits right. And when the weather cools off, there’s no cozier place to tuck away with a gin and tonic than the couch by that fireplace. 702 Virginia Ave., 317-653-1806

Hotel Tango Distillery, at it's finest.

A photo posted by Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery (@hoteltangoindy) on

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