Celebrate the Year of Vonnegut in Indy with 11 cocktails concocted by the city’s top mixologists. For 11 weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to try these Vonnegut-inspired cocktails.
For each cocktail, I've sat sat down with the bartender who crafted it, asking him or her a series of questions about what inspired the drink. This week I clinked glasses with Ethan Rogers at Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery.
Q: First of all, how long have you been with Hotel Tango, and what was it that led you there?
A: I’ve been here since around Christmas time of 2014. We opened in September of 2014, and then I came on around the Christmas season. I had been doing the coffee thing for a long time. I was a little burnt out on coffee though, and the bar scene had been interesting to me for a year or so. I had been making coffee beverages, so I thought, “Maybe I’ll try cocktails.” I originally jumped on as a bar-back and worked my way up.
Q: What is Hotel Tango all about?
A: Hotel Tango is the first and only service disabled combat veteran owned distillery. One of our many goals is focusing on the military and veterans. But, we’re also focused on making good alcohol, and I’m focused on making good drinks. My job at Hotel Tango is to take the spirits they distill here on site, and then create unique and delicious cocktails with them.
Q: Tell me about your Vonnegut-inspired drink.
A: The short story it’s inspired by is called Meow [from Cat’s Cradle]. Kurt Vonnegut tells about this experience he had of giving his space up for free while he was on vacation to this starving poet named Sherman Krebbs. In the story, the term “wrang-wrang” is used, which is someone who’s an advocate of one thing but ruins that by being the way they are. So he lends his place out to Sherman Krebbs for a week, comes back and his place is destroyed. It’s totally trashed and he’s killed his avocado tree and his cat. But, Krebbs has written this completely ridiculous poem on the linoleum tile floor, and he’s hung a sign around the dead cat’s neck. And, behind the bed, there’s a poem written on the wall in lipstick. So the name of the cocktail I came up with for the story is called Wrang Wrang. And to showcase parts of the story, it’s a blood-red cocktail, and the garnish for it is black lipstick.
Q: Have you made themed cocktails at Hotel Tango before?
A: I think we’re working on a handful. We had a Halloween themed one. It’s always fun trying to figure out what you’re going to do. It’s definitely something I’ve done before.
Q: What do you enjoy about working at Hotel Tango?
A: For me, it’s nice because I have some serious artistic liberty. Having a creative outlet, especially in my workplace, is really important to me. So it’s nice to be able to take over our menu and come up with new, innovative ways to make our spirits relevant in the city. I also really like the people that make up Hotel Tango. We’re all good friends, and we’re all really important to each other.
The beloved, yet cantankerous author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. grew up in Indy and penned many of his famous novels like Breakfast of Champions or Cat’s Cradle based on the Indy’s sights, sounds, and even its people. Take a self-guided Vonnegut tour to learn more about this legendary Hoosier.