COURTESY OF HOTEL TANGO DISTILLERY
Food & Drink

The Best Bars in Indianapolis to Drink at Right Now

Updated On 01/02/2018 at 12:52PM EST
Revolucion

La Revolucion Cafe & Bar

Fountain Square

A tropical atmosphere to sip a boat drink slow
Tucked back behind the wide-open, bright yellow dining room of Revolucion is a little slice of low-lit, tropical heaven. In the summer, the huge patio makes you feel like you’re on vacation, and in the winter the close quarters of the Tiki Lounge make you feel like you’re in a secret ecuatorial speakeasy. If you’re making plans and letting your outfit choose the venue, this is the spot for Hawaiian prints and a relaxed vibe, not bottle service and cover charges. Try the pitch-perfect Painkiller, an easy-drinking mix of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut.

The Brass Ring

The Brass Ring

Fountain Square

Best for partying with local bartenders late into the night
The Brass Ring is as iconic in Fountain Square as Pioneer Fountain itself, and it has been packing in patrons for years. The bar’s crowd swells when the hospitality workers of the neighborhood stop by after their shifts are over. It’s one of those old, great, dark bars lit mostly with string lights -- but with one essential upgrade: The Brass Ring uses a Bottoms Up system to fill their beers, so if you want to spend your night at a bar where you can get lots of beer fast and spend less time waiting at the bar, The Brass Ring is about to become your secret hero.

Courtesy of Libertine Liquor Bar

Libertine Liquor Bar

Mass Ave

Where necktied drink slingers go to master the Negroni
There are few places in town where you can order a by-the-book Manhattan and get a textbook, old-school cocktail. On the hipster continuum from face tattoos to unironic three-piece suits, the bartenders here fall hard into latter camp -- mustache wax and all. But if you want to spend your evening with a slightly inflated sense of sophistication, this is the bar to escort you. That said, watch your high heels on the deathtrap stairs to the basement bar.

Jolene Ketzenberger/Thrillist

Dorman Street Saloon

Holy Cross

A neighborhood tavern with fancy craft cocktails
Great cocktails often come at the expense of having to wear nice clothes, high prices, and long waits at the bar, but Dorman bucks the trend in every way. This perfect dive bar has a juke box full of Prince hits, and you can get the same quality of drinks as on Mass Avenue, for less money and a lot less pretension. For our money, this is as close as you can get to the perfect spot for the low-key partier: great drinks, outstanding music, and a street where you can safely leave your car and Uber home without worrying about your windows. Try the peppery J. Carpenter if you like heat, citrus, and bubbles.

The Wellington Pub

Broad Ripple

A slice of English repose in the heart of Broad Ripple
This cute shotgun-style bar shares footprint space with Corner Wine Bar, and they’ve finally hoisted a sign outside the door so visitors can find it. The interior of the bar looks like somewhere you might end up if you wanted to go out in the outskirts of London; it is lined floor to ceiling with polished wood, leaded glass windows, and a smoldering fireplace. It’s one of those cozy little nooks that makes for a great place to kick off or end your night, and it may be the perfect bar to avoid the crowds, play darts, and have a relaxed, fun night.

Courtesy of Spoke and Steele

Spoke & Steele

Mile Square

A craft cocktail locale for the business traveling set
In the lobby of what used to be The Canterbury and what now houses Le Meridien, you’ll find another great cocktail spot right in the middle of the action between Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse. Spoke, as it’s known locally, combines all the old bones of the old hotel’s architecture and vibe, but with flavors and decor that is updated for the modern bar patron. You can indulge in cocktails enrobed in cedar smoke and punched up with fresh herbs, and it’s in walking distance from just about every major downtown hot spot.

Courtesy of Hotel Tango Distillery

Hotel Tango Distillery

Fletcher Place

Fireside drinks, straight from the distillery
Hotel Tango started its life as a simple distillery, hoping to use their bar as more of a tasting spot than a fully-functioning Fletcher Place hot spot. But the huge stone fireplace calls to chilly Hoosiers like a siren song, and the rustic, comforting interior makes you feel like you’re having a drink in a friend’s mountainside cabin. The same goes for those thinking they’ll “stop in” for one drink before a long night: You may just find that the easy-drinking cocktails and warm blaze keep you anchored in this gorgeous little gift of a bar scented with burning wood and barrels full of smoky whiskey.

Courtesy of Alley Cat Lounge

Alley Cat Lounge

Broad Ripple

For those who just can’t choose between a dive and a lounge
If you haven’t been to The Cat in a hot minute, you might be surprised to find that it’s grown a Janusian style second (and much fancier) face. Yes, the old, comfortingly gross alley side of the bar still remains, but with the addition of a fancy little bar connected by a hallway. If you don’t want to go far when youe evening goes from classy to trashy, The Cat ensures you don’t have to anymore. They even serve perhaps the second-best bar burger (Workingman’s Friend is still king) in the city, so you can party, play pool, and sober up all in the same place.

The Sinking Ship

The Sinking Ship

SoBro

A Midtown neighborhood spot with the soul of a biker bar
Another name shortened to the essentials, The Ship remains a neighborhood favorite for reliable reasons: You can get exceptional craft beer, or a cheap tallboy of PBR, and your server doesn’t care which one you get as long as you tip well. The bar is beloved by old timers and hipsters alike, thanks to a formidable lineup of hearty vegan, vegetarian, and carnivorous plates available late into the night.

Jolene Ketzenberger/Thrillist

Sam's Silver Circle

Fountain Square

Where beautiful pizza slays your beast of a hangover
Entering this dive is like taking a walk through time, with unkempt walls decorated with old license plates and magazine covers. It is also literally a walk through time, as Sam’s has been around since the '60s as a well-known spot for pizza and cheap beer -- though for a long time both were meant for the working class folks that defined the neighborhood. These days, a younger crowd has moved in, and Sam’s has become a bar where old meets new, and the young meets the established. The Brass Ring is like Sam’s fashionable baby sister, but this place is zero frills.

Thunderbird

Thunderbird

Fountain Square

Fun drinks served cheaply and often
Thunderbird claims to be leaving the days of the $12 cocktail behind, embracing more of a big box, low-cost mentality toward its cocktails (though it’s worth noting that there are no prices listed on any of their websites or social media). Either way, this rockabilly-inspired bar is now open from lunch until 3am, slinging their new lineup of vacation-y cocktails and advertising aimed squarely at your mom, or rather, #yourmom, so both you and your mom can enjoy an electric azure Blue Hawaii cocktail to start (or end) your nights with a shot of fun (and sugar).

Dugout Bar

The Dugout

Fletcher Place

A dive so hip it was here 60 years before the cool kids
The Dugout is the kind of stalwart you’d expect to still see standing in the charred remains of a nuclear war. It’s been there long before Fletcher Place was cool (1954), and so it will remain long after the hipsters have packed up their chicken coops and moved to a trendier neighborhood. Drinking at The Dugout is the perfect way to say “screw fancy, screw complicated,” pound cheap draft beers, and watch sports on TV. It’s the kind of place where all your friends will end up anyway, so you can save yourself some Lyft money by just going here first and waiting.

Tappers Arcade Bar

Tappers Arcade Bar

Fletcher Place

Access your inner child while enjoying the fruits of adulthood
OK, OK, so Indy was a little behind the bar arcade phenomenon, but we’re up to speed now, and the fine folks at Tappers have gotten everything right on their first try. Along with a great tap list full of local favorites, the bar will allow you to order Clustertruck or bring your Rook food over from next door to nosh on while you game. Play is free, but parking is a nightmare -- especially on a busy night -- so save the headache and splurge on a Lyft. Tappers is packed most weekend days, so don’t expect the crowds to be small.

Bar One Fourteen

Bar One Fourteen

Meridian-Kessler

Luxurious drinking and dining for the tiny house set
The Patachou family of restaurants continues to expand, this time with a tiny little speakeasy-size “microbar” helmed by Martha Hoover’s Parisian-trained chef son, David. Accordingly, the menu features many upscale versions of gastropub foods (words like butter-poached, smoked roe, and confit appear on the short menu) and a well-curated wine list. The little bar features a perfectly tuned set of Klipsch speakers for the space, so those seeking to entertain all of their senses will find the perfect party for two here. It’s far from the crowds of the Broad Ripple strip but still a short Uber or walk back home for Midtowners.

Up Next
Food & Drink

Where to Watch the FIFA World Cup in Indy This Summer

Published On 06/08/2018
O K, Indianapolis is not exactly ablaze with World Cup mania -- after all, our game is basketball. But there are still plenty of places in town for dedicated soccer fans to watch the action, which goes down in Russia this year from June 14 to July 15. And it’s not just about which bar has the biggest screens -- or at least, not totally about that. To really enjoy soccer’s High Holy Days, you need good food, plentiful drinks and, perhaps most importantly, a crowd that’s just as into the sport as you. Here are the best bars in Indianapolis to watch the World Cup, and don't forget to check back for more updates as the games heat up.

Chatham Tap

Mass Ave, Fishers

The place to go if you’re really, really into soccer
If Indianapolis had a ground zero for soccer fandom, this is it. While other establishments show whatever sporting event is hot at the moment, this English-style pub keeps its battery of HDTVs tuned to the English Premier League, European Championships, UEFA Champions League, and -- of course -- the World Cup once it cycles back. It’s one of the few places in the city where you can spout off about soccer to the guy on the next barstool and not get a blank stare. Expect an immense list of imported beers and local craft brews, all your pub grub favorites (you can’t go wrong with the fish and chips), and most likely standing room-only crowds. Like we said, this is soccer central, and everybody knows it.

Scotty's Brewhouse

Scotty's Brewhouse

Downtown, Northside and Southside

Classic sports bar with locally brewed beer
Sure it’s a chain, but it’s a local chain. The Downtown location, across the street from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, serves up a hoard of TVs, a can’t-miss comfort food menu that includes the Piggy Mac Grilled Cheese (pulled pork with honey barbecue sauce, melted between layers of Cheddar cheese and macaroni & cheese, and served between slices of sourdough toast), and beer straight from Thr3e Wise Men brewery, just down the road in Broad Ripple.

O'Reilly's Irish Bar & Restaurant

Downtown, Speedway, and Greenwood

Enough Guinness to drown a small army
Everything about this small chain of Irish pub joints screams tradition, from the food, to the beer, to the TVs, pretty much everywhere you look. OK, maybe the televisions aren’t traditional, but after you’ve sampled the Guinness beef stew, and maybe a couple of regular Guinnesses (Guinnessi?) you’ll be way past caring.

Average Joe's Sports Pub

Average Joe's Sports Pub & Grub

Broad Ripple

A neighborhood mainstay that's both a dive bar and a sports bar  
Looking for a dive bar/sports bar fusion? No? Well, you might want to reconsider. Average Joe’s has been a Broad Ripple fixture for decades. Every spare bit of wall space is covered with local sports memorabilia and tributes to "weekend warrior" athletes -- at least the parts that aren’t covered with TVs, that is. Avail yourself of a domestic beer, load up on nachos, pizza, or wings (there’s literally nothing on the menu that requires utensils), and play a round of pool while the World Cup unfolds.

Moe & Johnny's

Butler Tarkington

Basically a student dive without the students
The restaurant is only a couple decades old, but the fact that it was carved from three old buildings makes it seem like it goes back much farther. The three dining and drinking areas are equipped with gear salvaged from other establishments, including counters and bar tops made from the volleyball courts used at the 1987 Pan American Games. There are plenty of local and imported beers on tap, a surprisingly long wine list, and cleverly designed cocktails. Definitely try our pick, the Bourbon:30 -- Maker’s Mark on the rocks with ginger ale, triple sec, and orange juice. Even the salads are innovative and tasty, especially the Forest Chicken, which is made with chopped apples, pecans, and Gorgonzola cheese on mixed greens. Just save room for the also-excellent pizza.

JW Marriott Indianapolis

High Velocity

Downtown

A hotel bar uniquely suited to capturing every second of action
Granted, this is a hotel bar (located inside the massive JW Marriott), but if you want to see the World Cup, you could hardly miss it here. Literally every available vertical surface sports a massive plasma TV. So order a Hoosier-style pork tenderloin sandwich (served with jalapeño coleslaw and slathered with poblano mayonnaise), select from the comprehensive beer and wine lists, or maybe enjoy a Blackberry Jack (Jack Daniels, cranberry juice, and blackberry puree).

Union Jack Pub

Broad Ripple

Team USA die-hards can commiserate here
Expect a highly partisan crowd, because this soccer hotbed is also the official watch party location for American Outlaws Indianapolis, the local chapter of a national group that supports the United States national team. So expect a very soccer-friendly atmosphere -- even if Team USA is not competing this year. Just be advised that on game days and nights the place fills up fast. So get there early, order an Indy-style deep-dish pizza (40-minute cook time), knock back a Smithwicks Irish red ale (or two), and await the game in style.

MacNiven's Restaurant & Bar

Mass Ave

Yes, they have haggis
From the carefully curated selection of malt whiskeys to the haggis sampler platter on the appetizer menu, everything about this smallish establishment screams Scottish-American authenticity. World Cup fans will feel right at home, too, because the walls are covered with soccer memorabilia. If you work downtown, this is the perfect place to sneak away at noon to catch a match over a long “lunch.” But brace yourself for a crowd, because you won’t be the only person to do this.

Broad Ripple Brewpub

Broad Ripple Brewpub

Broad Ripple

Not a lot of TVs, but plenty of relaxed atmosphere
If you’re looking for someplace low-key to enjoy a game, Indiana’s oldest brewpub may be just the spot. Established in 1990 by British expat John Hill, it sports the dark decor of a classic English pub, complete with dart room. Enjoy a full lineup of house-made brews (along with a healthy assortment of OPBs, or Other People’s Beers) and a menu that includes everything from traditional scotch eggs to the not-so-traditional vegan fish and chips. But if you’re the sort of person who’s prone to screaming “Gooooooooaaaaaaaallllllll!” at the top of your lungs, look elsewhere. This place is a little too laid-back for that.

Kilroy's Bar N' Grill

Downtown and Broad Ripple

Lots of TVs, BBQ, booze, and games; zero kids
Kilroy’s has two locations, but the Downtown one is the most spacious. It’s an over-21 joint offering 32-ounce Long Island iced teas, barbecue that’s smoked on-site, and more than 40 TVs. If there’s a lull in the action, play a round of shuffleboard or blow some quarters on the old-school video games.

The District Tap

The District Tap

Castleton

A hidden hot spot for sports and funky beers, next to a shopping mall
Though its location next to a giant shopping mall may not look promising, this establishment is in fact a sports watchers paradise. It’s typically more of an NFL redoubt, but in June count on the establishment’s innumerable TVs to be tuned to the World Cup. You might want to get a quirky-sounding local or regional beer, because they’ve got literally all of them, from an Aloha Traveler pineapple shandy to Preacher’s Daughter red ale. Pair up your pint with some shredded pork belly tacos, and you’re good to go.

Coaches Tavern

Downtown

Daily drink specials in a shrine to coaching
This place looks like a dive from the outside, but the inside is brightly lit, inviting and absolutely bursting with TVs. Envisioned as a tribute to coaches, it’s also bursting with reasonably priced alcoholic beverages, and an extensive menu serving everything from a Buffalo chicken dip appetizer, to pan-seared ahi, to the Breakfast of Champions -- a burger topped with a fried egg, hash browns, bacon, and American cheese. No one will mind if you order it for dinner. Coaches' drink specials shuffle up every day of the week and vary from $3-$5; its website helpfully lists all the regular ones.

Courtesy of Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery
Food & Drink

7 Places to Sample Indy's Craft Spirits

Published On 11/23/2016