Citizen Cane: August’s Foodie Chris Coy

A cocktail veteran gets a little tiki behind the bar at The Inferno Room, opening this fall.

Black Market beverage director Chris Coy sees some similarities between his current position and his 1990s gig playing bass guitar for Indiana rock band the Pub Sigs. “Everything is collaborative,” Coy says. “Someone comes in with part of a song, everybody else has input, and we all finish it together.” Basically, he’s still riffing with the band, creating customer favorites at the bar and fashioning a wine list that has helped Black Market snag a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2014.

“It’s impossible to have a bad day at a tiki bar.”

This fall, Coy teams up with the Mass Ave restaurant’s co-owner, Ed Rudisell (also of Rook, Thunderbird, and Siam Square), to open The Inferno Room, a thinking man’s tiki bar in Fountain Square. The duo’s friendship goes back nearly two decades, to when both of them worked at a Buffalo Wild Wings downtown: Coy as a bartender and Rudisell as the manager. Coy is as ambitious with the ingredients and flavor profiles of cocktails as top chefs are with daring food menus, and he manages to be at once enthusiastic about taking risks and intent on honoring tradition. Expect authentic Mai Tais (as in, not red or pink), tea punch with pure French West Indies rum, and tapas-style, Asian-inspired tiki fare. As for decor, Coy says The Inferno Room team opted for “more of a jungle-y, voodoo, witch-doctor kind of thing” over the standard beachy, hula-girl take. Escapism will be the name of the game. “It’s impossible to have a bad day at a tiki bar,” says Coy.

Chris Coy’s Favorite Things

(1) Rhum Agricole. “That’s been my new love in the rum world for the last year.”

(2) Sparkling wine. “I love bubbles.”

(3) Pickled apples and cherries. “I use them for cocktail garnishes.”

Bonus: Coy’s recipe for a no-fail Mai Tai based on the original Trader Vic’s cocktail.