Hotel Tango Brings New Tasting Room Location to Zionsville
Writer / Jon Shoulders Photographer / Michael Durr
In the years since the staff at Hotel Tango Distillery opened their flagship Indianapolis location in 2014, Ginger Barnes, vice president of operations, often heard from customers saying they’d traveled from the north side to sample the company’s artisan bourbons, whiskeys and other spirits.
“We realized that we could expand our footprint a little bit and serve a client base that would welcome what we’re doing – people that know us and also those who aren’t familiar with what our brand is all about,” Ginger says.
It eventually became apparent to the staff that opening a tasting room in one of the satellite towns on the north side of Indianapolis would make strong business sense and grow the company brand considerably.
Ginger’s brother Travis, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who officially founded the business with his wife Hilary in 2014, describes the Hotel Tango concept as offering elevated, high-end craft cocktails in an easy-going, laid-back environment. The name comes from the NATO phonetic alphabet – Hotel for Hilary and Tango for Travis.
After launching their original location on Virginia Avenue in Indianapolis, the team opened a Fort Wayne tasting room, HT2, in 2017, and not long after they began working with a developer to land a desirable location for a tasting room north of Indy.
“Things kind of just fell into place with the location in Zionsville – it was the right community at the right time in the right place,” Travis says. “The mayor’s office, the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce – they’ve all made great introductions for us to folks around the community. It’s been very nice and welcoming.”
The Hotel Tango team decided to renovate a space formerly occupied by Village Station Pub and Pizza King on Zionsville Road and create a tasting room that offers a food menu and Hotel Tango’s selection of artisan spirits. The location features a spacious interior plus a patio for outdoor dining and tasting.
“We took the space pretty much down to the walls,” Ginger says of the renovation process. “The space was divided between the Village Pub and Pizza King, and we wanted it completely opened up. We took down the dividing wall and we’re adding a large, garage-style door so we have some indoor-outdoor capability. We’re hoping to be able to have 100 people inside and 100 people outside, for regular, non-COVID capacity.”
Hotel Tango’s spirits selection includes bourbon, rye whiskey, wild rum, cherry liqueur and more. Ginger describes the food offerings available at the Zionsville location as elevated pub fare served in a comfortable atmosphere.
“We wanted to play off of our cocktails – the food is inspired by our elevated cocktails, and we’re going to do seasonal ingredients on the menu, so the menu will likely change with the season,” Ginger adds.
Hilary says Hotel Tango’s bourbon selection is a constant favorite among customers at the Indy and Fort Wayne spots, and expects the new Zionsville tasting room to be no different.
“Our bourbon cocktails, and even just the classic bourbon cocktails like the old fashioned, do really well in our tasting rooms,” she says.
The Hotel Tango team has been involved in the local Indianapolis community since the company’s founding. Back in March, when COVID-19 began to spread throughout the U.S., the staff members found themselves producing hand sanitizer at their warehouse and donating it to local organizations that were in short supply. The team hopes to immerse themselves in the Zionsville community in the same way.
“Even before we announced the Zionsville location, we worked with the Zionsville Chamber for events here and there, and always had a lovely experience,” Ginger says. “The community seems really excited for us, and it always feels good to be wanted.”
Hilary says she and her colleagues feel honored to become part of a local business community that continues to grow and diversify.
“It seems like Zionsville is selective, and picks and chooses what businesses they want to come there, so it’s exciting for us to fit into that category for them, and for them to be so excited for us to be there,” she says.
Travis says the craft spirits industry has grown considerably in recent years, making it an ideal time for expansion of his business.
“The feedback has been fantastic from the Zionsville Chamber and various locals so far – everyone’s been so nice to us,” he says. “We love the small business culture the town has created here. Zionsville is a cool community, and I like that it doesn’t seem to be trying as hard as some other places, in the sense that it feels very authentic.”