If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Indianapolis guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Indianapolis for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like Claddagh Irish Pub to busy places like Nicky Blaine's that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Downtown area? No fear - we share all the facts!


War Memorial Plaza Historic Dist

Wood-paneled walls, luxurious carpeting, and cozy sofas and wingback chairs envelop you with casual elegance in this welcoming establishment. Many patrons enjoy hanging out at Nicky Blaine's for good conversation, mouth-watering appetizers, and a well-mixed martini from the extensive list of possibilities. Cigars are available too, along with world-class wines, ports and single malt scotches.

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This family-run establishment is a great place to go for a calm evening out with friends or family. Enjoy the retro '50s-style decor and the antique pinball machine while you and your buddies catch up on the week's affairs. The menu includes a variety of food and drink items. You can't miss the building – a glowing neon sign with the business name and a martini glass marks the entrance.

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Alley Cat Lounge

Come party with the diverse crowd that hangs out in this stylish dive. Pierced body parts, tattooed flesh, and relaxed attire are what you will most likely find here. From your rowdy college student to your typical Harley Davidson enthusiast – no matter what stereotype you fit, you will be welcome here. If your favorite hangout closes early and you are not ready to call it a night, then come on by and shoot some pool or join in a game of darts at the Alley Cat.

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"Leisurely brewed" read labels adorning the homemade suds at Broad Ripple Brew Pub. The philosophy of relaxation permeates every aspect of this casual, low-slung hangout, from its weathered patio to dim lighting and a distressed tin ceiling inside. Specialty brews include the rich-bodied Monon Porter, refreshing favorite Lawn Mower Pale Ale, and malty Extra Special Bitter. The first brew pub in Indiana serves appropriately British-influenced fare: a ploughman's platter, steak and kidney pie, and Scotch eggs. You'll find plenty of vegetarian selections, too.

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You might think you've stumbled into a pub from the Old Country when you walk through MacNiven's door. Darkened woods, quiet conversation, and the sound of clinking mugs raised in toasts set the mood. The imported beer selection is impressive, thanks to more than 15 Scottish beers (many of them on tap) and around 120 different brews. A fine assortment of single malt scotches is also available. Locals love the place in the evenings, but MacNiven's also does a steady lunch business thanks to authentic Scottish pub grub like steak pie and mashed potatoes, Scotch eggs, and beans on toast.

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Rock Bottom Brewery

Whether you're a die-hard Indy sports fan or a business professional from the nearby offices, you'll find a scene that suits you at Rock Bottom. Pacers and Colts fanatics can catch all the highlights on TVs in the dining area, while patrons wanting a lively conversation over a few beers migrate to the bustling upstairs bar or the quieter basement space, complete with exposed brickwork and pool tables. Award-winning brews like the Hefeweizen, Chai Stout, and American Wheat have all garnered acclaim.

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Appointed with decorative items shipped from Ireland, this popular pub boasts a cozy interior, and friendly staff put folks immediately at ease. The pub prides itself on following the tradition of the public houses of old, being centers of the community meant for socializing over warm food and relaxing drinks. Traditional Irish food is served in large portions, and the drink roster includes outstanding Guinness and on-tap beers.

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The Ball & Biscuit
Photo courtesy of Ball & Biscuit

Pull aside the heavy black drapes and enter a seductive world of Prohibition-era cocktails and sophisticated socializing at this modern-day speakeasy in downtown Indianapolis. Surrounded by exposed brick walls, cozy leather chairs and vintage music equipment, including the namesake “ball and biscuit” microphone, patrons sip creative cocktails like the Corn and Oil, featuring Black Strap Rum, homemade almond-clove syrup and fresh lime. Scrumptious small plates, an inviting crowd and unique background music enhance the experience.

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Fountain Square

For a casual dinner on a peaceful outdoor patio or a late night of Rat Pack-style partying, this hip yet welcoming bar in Fountain Square is simply unbeatable. As sultry Sinatra and silent classic films set the mood, visitors kick back with a cold one or a perfectly poured drink mixed with unusual craft liquors. A few glasses in, nothing hits the spot like The Brass Ring's deliciously inventive pizzas and quesadillas, served until 3am.

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Sixteen constantly rotating taps of local brew make Tomlinson Tap Room one of the most beloved beer bars in Indianapolis. Located on the second-floor mezzanine of the City Market, this one-of-a-kind watering hole features large tables crafted from old barn doors and a gorgeous reconditioned bar, where kind and knowledgeable barkeeps offer spot-on suggestions. Craving a bite with your brew? Snack on homemade pretzels or have savory crepes delivered from 3 Days in Paris downstairs.

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