Hotel Tango is not a hotel. Nor is it just a whiskey. Hotel Tango is the brainchild of Travis Barnes, a former Recon Marine with three combat tours under his belt. Upon arriving home, Travis, his wife, and a group of friends decided to launch Indiana’s first and only veteran-owned artisanal distillery. They celebrated their opening in Fletcher Place yesterday with a Colts tailgate party, a roaring fire, and some of the freshest rum you’ll ever taste.
What it is: Hotel Tango is at its heart, a love letter to Travis’s wife, Hilary. In the military phonetic alphabet, H (for Hilary) translates to Hotel, and T (for Travis) translates to Tango. All the spirits they distill will follow a similar suit: Romeo Rum, Victor Vodka, Golf Gin.
What we like: The tasting room features a huge fireplace, hand-built by Travis’s dad, a 3rd-generation mason. It sets the stage for a cozy, rough-hewn room where anyone might imagine a Hemingway story to take place. In fact, the whole operation feels tucked away and intimate. The stills are right on the other side of a large, camo-painted sliding door. “You get to sit at the bar and see us making what you’re drinking,” says co-founder Brian Willsey.
What we’ll have: We got to sample a pipet of rum that was practically straight from the still. I’ve not enjoyed rum since a particularly rum-soaked evening in high school, but that sample made a believer out of me. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait at least 2-4 years for a batch of bourbon, but a white-dog sample of their peated barley whiskey has me looking forward to the future.
On top of samples, the tasting room will offer a number of signature cocktails featuring their spirits. Next time we go back, I’m ordering a Cuban Missile Crisis, the name given to their rum-vodka cocktail.