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 drink, I sat down to catch up with the bartender who crafted it, asking him or her a series of questions about what inspired the drink. First up, is a Q&A with Garrett Smith from Spoke & Steele.

Q: Give me a little bit of information on yourself. How long have you been making drinks, and what brought you to Spoke & Steele?

A: I’ve been crafting drinks for about five years now. I came to Spoke & Steele because I wanted an opportunity to move up in my bartending career, and they gave me that opportunity. I strive to be a leader and do some really awesome things here.

Q: What is Spoke & Steele all about?

A: We specialize in craft cocktails and also barrel-aging cocktails. On the former, we do our own fresh juices. We make our own shrubs. We’ve done our own bitters before. We make our own garnishes. We try to do everything in-house. The team is very well educated and are always going above and beyond with self education. On the latter, we meet with clients and build their own personal barreled cocktails. 

Q: Tell me about the drink you crafted in honor of Vonnegut.

A: The drink is called Not Kilgore's Drano. It entails a five-year scotch with a 100 proof rye. We squeeze fresh lemon juice. We have agave syrup that we’ve infused fresh thyme into. We use a saline solution, which is essentially just salt water. And then, activated charcoal. We use a little bit of that in there to really change the color of the drink. It’s a pitch black cocktail. And finally, a little bit of cayenne pepper.

Q: How does the drink tie into Vonnegut and his work?

A: One of Vonnegut’s most-used characters was Kilgore Trout. And in the book Breakfast of Champions, he ends his life by drinking Drano. So we play off of that by making the drink approachable as if it’s not Kilgore’s Drano. It’s not your demise. It’s actually something that will start your evening adventure here at Spoke & Steele.

Q: Have you ever done any other kinds of thematic drinks like this at Spoke & Steele?

A: Yes, we have done things like this before. For Gen Con, we had a cocktail menu that was based off of fictional characters from games and books. But, this one is new because we’ve never used charcoal in a drink before. 

Q: Ultimately, what did you enjoy about the experience of making this drink in honor of Vonnegut?

A: Just seeing the overall outcome, especially when we’re using something new like the charcoal. It’s a learning experience for everybody. But, the more we know about the ingredients, the better understanding we have of the cocktails we’re able to create.

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.