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January 2013

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No. 1 – The Ball & Biscuit

As every lounge in town rolls out its pre-Prohibition cocktail list—muddling herbs and berries until their wrists go limp—you get the feeling that it’s no shtick here.

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No. 2 – The Libertine Liquor Bar

Ordering a cocktail here means sitting back and watching while a dapper bartender in a proper vest and wide-knotted tie tinkers with ice cubes and orange peels. The carefully composed drinks are nothing short of cosmic.

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No. 3 – The Rathskeller

“We restored an icon for the city,” says owner Dan McMichael. “And the city has responded.”

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No. 4 – Red Key Tavern

You’ll still find young hipster couples mingling with octogenarians, and councilmen brokering deals over a beer.

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No. 5 – 1933 Lounge

The stairway to the 1933 (named for the year Prohibition ended) leads back in time. At the top, waitresses in scandalously small red dresses cater to the suits in a lounge that’s as elegant as it is quiet.

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No. 6 – Nicky Blaine's

With no windows in sight, hours can disappear at this Monument Circle man cave, one of the last bastions for cigar-smokers in the city.

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No. 7 – Bluebeard

The cocktail menu changes seasonally, so don’t go looking for “the usual.” And the bar offers high-concept snacks ranging from charcuterie to pickles.

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No. 8 – The Brass Ring Lounge

Years before the speakeasy trend made its way to Indy full force, this establishment featured Jazz Age photos on the wall and classic cocktails like the Sazerac.

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No. 9 – The Chatterbox Jazz Club

This tiny joint is a total dive. But the jazz musicians who perform there, and the toe-tapping art-schoolers and wine-sipping literati who crowd the shotgun bar to hear them, really class things up.

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No. 10 – Wellington Pub

There are plenty of other holes-in-the-wall in Indy, and you can’t throw a dart (another Wellington pastime) without hitting a corporate bar marketing itself as a British-themed pub. But the leaded glass and woodwork here make most of those other places seem like a trip to the loo.

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No. 11 – Radio Radio

It has built a reputation for being the place to knock back a few drinks while taking in the best indie rock you haven’t heard yet.

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No. 12 – Slippery Noodle Inn

You can’t fault owner Hal Yeagy for taking what was essentially a sad little shotgun saloon and turning it into a blues mecca, sprawling grownup amusement park, and Indiana’s most famous nightspot.

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No. 13 – The Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant

A bar crowd that had thinned (and aged) noticeably since the Aristocrat opened 80 years ago now seems to be reinvigorated, even on weeknights.

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No. 14 – MacNiven's

European and American football share time on the TVs here, but in the summer, most patrons crowd around the garage-door windows and focus their attention on the stylish denizens of Mass Ave.

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No. 15 – The Northside Social

One of the few grown-up watering holes in Broad Ripple, this mod bar has the polish and straight lines that make for a sophisticated place to drink.