#WeAreIndy – Hotel Tango

Indy Chamber News Archives

If bootleggers straight of the Prohibition Era could travel through time, a bottle of gin says they would end up at Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery. Reminiscent of days gone by, Hotel Tango is truly the one stop shop for sipping your favorite, local artisanal drink. 

Opening their doors in 2014, Hotel Tango is the first disabled veteran owned distillery in the country and the first craft distillery in Indy. Returning home after three combat tours, former marine Travis Barnes took an interest in spirit distillation. Along with his closest friends he met in law school, Barnes noticed that Indiana liquor laws were changing to allow craft spirit manufacturers to sell directly to consumers, much like a brewery or winery. However, the artisan distiller’s permit being offered was only available for a limited time. With the time limit as incentive, Barnes turned to his friend Brian Willsey for business help.

When Barnes and Willsey first saw the building that is now Hotel Tango, they knew they had to have it. A former carriage house turned mortuary in Fletcher Place, Hotel Tango’s location is killer, all puns aside. Located right on the cultural trail, the building stands out as a rich piece of Indianapolis history. The fireplace in the center of the tasting room is a new welcome addition, along with the residence of local celebrity, Fletcher the Cat.

Opening its doors less than two years ago, Hotel Tango has already received accolades and medals for their spirits.  After trial and error and consultation with experts, the team’s hard work is paying off.  Barnes’ military background translates into his business style, with the team all jumping in where needed as a fully functioning unit.

“The hardest part about small business ownership has been facing the unknown. It is a new industry in Indy, and we are blazing a path for others to follow.  We are really setting the standard. My favorite part has been starting with an idea, and seeing it through from conception to 19 people on the payroll. It’s been a wild ride,” Barnes says.

As a new business in Indianapolis, Hotel Tango joined the Indy Chamber to connect to the business community.

“As an Indy Chamber member, we have access to networking and introductions to the business community. The Indy Chamber is doing great things for Indy, leading the City in the right direction for the future,” Barnes and Willsey agree.

To those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the team at Hotel Tango gives some solid advice. “Just do it. Mistakes are inevitable. No one else can do it for you, You’ve got to figure it out on your own! Don’t talk about it, be about it.”

To learn more about Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery, please visit hoteltangowhiskey.com.

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