The Ball and Biscuit is considered by many to be Indianapolis’ original craft cocktail bar, paving the way for others with its mixologists muddling fresh herbs, warm citrus peels and shaking pre-prohibition era libations. Bare-bulb Edison lights dangle over the bar, while exposed red brick walls and scarred wood tables and chairs give the air of a bootlegger’s hideout. The décor may be spartan, but the glassware gleams in the spotlight. Every style, shape and size is used in accordance with the appropriate cocktail, and no generic drinkware is used for drinks crafted by these master bartenders. At this award-winning, Massachusetts Avenue bar, top-of-the-line mixologists create first-rate cocktails and revamp classics, creating a scene few have been able to replicate.
The Libertine Liquor Bar is a narrow, softly-lit room in which deeply-shaded hardwood floors separate a series of small dining tables on one side and a long bar on the other. Modern yet calm, dim watering holes like this are hard to come by in Indianapolis, which has led locals to flock to this downtown haunt since it opened. With a cosmopolitan décor that combines cool browns and gray, the facility is appropriately known for its trendy liquors and specialty mixed drinks, but the Libertine is equally recognized as a casually-elegant spot for both contemporary and unusual American cuisine. On the rotating menu diners may find gin marinated olives, which are a popular starter, and many enjoy the facility’s monkfish that comes with ricotta gnuddi and pomodoro. Chicken and bacon meatballs are also a favorite for those looking to experiment.
Ornamental hookahs tower over tabletops at Hookah Nites, sending swirling clouds of aromatic smoke out over cushy velvet couches and armchairs. Bartenders bustle about behind the dimly lit bar, mixing up specialty cocktails, doling out pitchers, and dishing out platters of sizzling specialty pizzas. A massive projector screen beams down on the scene, glittering with glamorous images from music videos or commercials where a timid band geek earns the admiration of the popular cheerleader after buying a fancy mouthwash.
"Cooking: Possible" splits the spotlight between celebrity chef Robert Irvine, star of the Food Network's Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible, and Jonathon Sawyer, sous chef for Michael Symon on Iron Chef America and owner of Greenhouse Tavern. During the show, the hash-slinging savants pepper engaging cooking demos with video segments from Irvine's popular television series. A large screen perched above the stage pours elaborate views of each dish into the audience, including detailed close-ups and a kiss cam for snuggling potatoes.
Past the glimmering main lobby, past the Middle Eastern accents and hand-carved murals of the Egyptian Room, past the Victorian splendor of the Corinthian Hall, Old National Centre’s Murat Theatre continues the venue’s brand of elegance. Therein, row upon row of red-upholstered seats face a proscenium-style stage that entertains crowds with Broadway shows and musical acts. Overhead, the soft warmth of a chandelier ringed by a floral mural offsets the brilliance of the stage lighting and the performers’ flashlight-juggling routines.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse may be home to the Indiana Pacers, but the basketball team exudes plenty of Midwestern hospitality. The arena has hosted guests including Metallica, Disney on Ice, and Cirque du Soleil, as well as other professional sporting events. The welcoming atmosphere continues into the spacious concourse, where dining options range from drinks and pretzels at Mr. Smoothie to BBQ Alley, where athletes can sneak in a quick rack of ribs during halftime.