Cheers To Hi & Mighty At The Fairgrounds

The Indiana State Fairgrounds is gaining its first retail tenant in decades—a craft distillery, tasting room, and cocktail garden called Hi & Mighty. Dan Fahrner and his wife, Jamie Fahrner, along with their business partner and distiller Nick Traeger, hope to give the neighborhood a taste of Hi & Mighty’s core value: celebration.

It’s a value that predates the business, reaching back to a feeling the Fahrners experienced years ago, sipping golden-hour Negronis on a trip to Italy. “There was nothing particularly special going on, but everything took on this feeling of celebration,” says Jamie. “The food, the drinks, the way people interacted. We wanted to recapture that feeling every chance we could.”

Almost a decade later, the spirit of celebration is alive and well, not buried—but bolstered—by the addition of four kids, including a set of twins. The couple tapped close friend (“more like family”) Nick Traeger as their distiller, whose culinary background includes running kitchens and writing menus for Patachou Inc. and Traders Point Creamery. The trio’s interest in mixology eventually led them down a path of education and experimentation with a beloved spirit: gin.

“What’s great about gin is its versatility,” says Jamie, who serves as production director. “There’s a lot of room for creativity in the flavor profile using botanicals, herbs, and different spices.” Hi & Mighty is set to release twin gins—a wild floral called Big Heart and the more savory Big Fuss—this spring at local retailers and bars.

The doors to the tasting room will open to customers in the fall. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring at the Indiana State Fairgrounds campus inside the Southwest Pavilion, where plans include a full-scale distillery, bar, family-friendly cocktail garden, and space to eventually grow their own botanicals and herbs for gin production.

“We want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome and invited,” says Dan, who manages sales and marketing for Hi & Mighty. “We live just a few blocks from the fairgrounds, and we love the idea of being a gathering spot in the neighborhood.”

Why gin? “It’s such an approachable spirit,” says Dan. “Cocktail culture is back, and I think the pandemic played a part in that. People started mixing drinks at home again and celebrating the small stuff with the people they love. An easy-drinking gin is a great tool in your arsenal, and one of our personal favorites for home cocktails.”

Production is taking place at 8th Day Distillery until equipment is up and running in their new location. In addition to their lineup of gins, Hi & Mighty will release a grownup version of a state fair fan favorite—the lemon shake-up—as a canned cocktail for purchase this spring. Jamie hopes the Hi & Mighty values carry over to the community it serves, inspiring a renewed sense of connection and coming together.

“Wherever we are and whoever we’re with in the moment—this is what we’re given,” she says. “And it’s worth celebrating.”