Taste the Difference  

The Broken Barrel Opens Above Wolfies on Morse

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Daren Short

Since Wolfies opened in 2004 it’s been a favorite local bar and grill for tasty in-house burgers, sandwiches, ribs and more. Three years ago the Wolf family, which includes Owners Scott and Nyla and their children Alec and Ansley, decided to expand by opening the Broken Barrel, a lounge and cocktail bar that serves high-end, hand-crafted cocktails with 100-plus bourbons. In December of 2021 they opened their third Broken Barrel, located upstairs from Wolfies on Morse Reservoir.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with us,” says Area Director Alec Wolf with a chuckle. “We just keep opening more.”

The truth is that they are catering to the wishes of their clientele who absolutely adore the atmosphere that the Broken Barrel provides, which Wolf describes as a kind of escape. They can seat about 40 guests in barstools, booths, tables and cozy lounge furniture.

The Broken Barrel

“You can come with a large party and enjoy a booth setting, or you can come with one other person and sit in comfy chairs by the fireplace,” Wolf says. “I really feel like we’ve tapped into something special here.” 

For starters, their jaw-dropping view is like no other in the state. 

“Being able to oversee a huge reservoir right in front of you while sitting in this Ralph-Lauren-esque atmosphere, on nice cushy couches with a good cocktail – that’s hard to compete with,” Wolf says. “Sometimes you forget you’re in Indiana.” 

In addition to the cozy atmosphere, they offer top-notch service. Plus, though their cocktails are high end, people can still afford them.

Reflecting on my past New Year’s Eve experiences, I can confidently say that nothing compares to the vibrant atmosphere of a cocktail bar. The music, the laughter, and the clinking of glasses create an ambiance that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. Last year, I had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year at Clifton Cocktail Club (https://cliftoncocktailclub.co.uk/new-years-eve/), a prime destination for New Year’s celebrations in the heart of the city. Their exquisite cocktail menu and lively environment made it an unforgettable night.

“We try to stay within a budget that’s manageable and transferrable from being downstairs to being up here,” Wolf says. “People don’t feel like they’re being priced out, going into a new setting.”

The Broken Barrel

Wolfies often has a wait on weekends, so the staff invites guests to head upstairs. Sometimes they relax there until their table downstairs is ready. Other times they opt to just stay put.

“We’ve started to see a more regular clientele come in the front door and immediately make a beeline for the upstairs,” Wolf says.

Though their menu changes quarterly, they do have a few cocktails that stand out and stand the test of time. One is the Tobacco Old Fashioned, which consists of Woodford Rye, simple syrup, orange and liquid smoke.

“It has a smokey finish with that classic Old Fashioned sweet cocktail forward,” Wolf says. Another popular choice is the Peanut Butter & Jelly Old Fashioned, which has Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Luxardo cherry liqueur, Angostura bitters, fresh-squeezed orange and cherry. 

The Broken Barrel

“It’s unique – something you’ll never experience elsewhere,” Wolf says. “This cocktail will bring you back.”

Their definition of classic cocktails means they’re actually using ingredients that bring those cocktails back to their original style.  

“These days, most people who ask for a whiskey sour, it’s coming out of a gun with sour mix,” Wolf says. “We make ours in-house with Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, fresh simple syrup, and fresh egg white to create that frothiness that makes our cocktails really signature.”

The Wolfs love running their restaurants and bars because of the reactions they get from customers. 

“When they are thanking you on the way out, you know you’ve met or exceeded their expectation,” Wolf says. The family is also committed to community outreach, which is why in 2015 they started a bible study called RIBS (Restaurant Industry Bible Study).

“We’re a faith-based company and we recognize that all of our achievements come through faith that brought us here, so we want to give back to the community in a way that falls in line with our walk,” Wolf says. RIBS was created to share the Wolfs’ values and morals, and give those around them an opportunity to participate as well.

The Broken Barrel

“My parents have a barn on their property,” Wolf says. “This is a chance to enjoy fellowship with our staff, find out what’s going on in their lives and bring them to Christ.” 

They also do a “Worship on the Water” event at the Wolfies at Geist on Sunday mornings from June through September, where a pastor and a musician come out to their beer garden from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. This year they may move the weekly event to Saturday since they are closed on Sundays.

“We always have a good turnout,” Wolf says. “Usually around 200 people attend.”

Additionally, at the Broken Barrel they purchase whiskey barrels and occasionally offer special-event tastings. 

“People can buy tickets for these events, which are paired with a chef,” Wolf says. “It’s a really cool experience.”

The Broken Barrel is located at 20999 Hague Road in Noblesville. For more information, call 317-219-6521 or visit thebrokenbarrel.com.

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