In 2014, Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery was founded by Travis Barnes, a three-time combat Recon Marine war veteran who was disabled during his last deployment to Iraq. Barnes went to law school with intentions of becoming a lawyer but, instead he met a group of fellow law students who are now a fundamental part of Hotel Tango and its existence. Also, law school is where he met his wife, who has been a driving factor in where Hotel Tango is today.
Upon their third year in law school, Barnes and his wife, Hilary, decided they wanted to start a distillery where they could start a life long dream of owning a company together; however, they needed assistance. Travis, Hilary, Adam, and Nabeela all met as law students at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. All while Nabeela was dating Brian, who at the time, was an MBA student at the University of Indianapolis. Over Christmas break of their 3rd year of law school, Travis took an interest in spirit distillation and had a custom still commissioned. As law students, the group also took an interest in Indiana’s liquor laws and noticed an enticing opportunity that was simply too good to pass up.
The name “Hotel Tango” reflects Travis’s military roots. Using the NATO phonetic alphabet, Hilary and Travis have their first letters of their name expressed by “Hotel” and “Tango” respectively—thus the Distillery’s name.
Each Hotel Tango spirit derives its prefix from the phonetic alphabet as such, i.e. Victor Vodka, Golf Gin, Mike Moonshine, etc. That is, except for Whiskey, because the abbreviation for W already happens to be Whiskey.
Armed with Travis’s newfound passion for distillation and Brian’s business acumen, the lawyer’s-in-training and friends banded together to take advantage of this particular legislation to create Indiana’s first artisan distillery—Hotel Tango. Not only is Hotel Tango the first craft distillery in Indy, it’s the first service-disabled combat-veteran owned distillery in the country.
Hotel Tango opened its doors on September 15th, 2014 featuring its one-of-a-kind tasting room, which includes a Hotel Tango spirits only bar coupled with a rustic atmosphere. Our delicious handcrafted cocktails are inspired by each spirit that is made by our master distillers. The tasting room offers a unique experience that each customer can come in, try each spirit and learn more about the products.
Early on in their existence, Hotel Tango has put its mark on not only Indiana but Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Texas and there is no signs of slowing down! Make sure to check out our locations in the aforementioned states and be on the lookout as Hotel Tango’s spirits possibly come to your state next!!
Travis has always loved the craft of distilling and working in the heart of vibrant Indianapolis, Indiana. When he isn’t at Hotel Tango, Travis enjoys hanging with his wife, friends, and dogs. Travis’ favorite cartoon is Wile E. Coyote.
Brian enjoys living the dream. T-shirts and jeans are his daily attire and, most importantly, his hair is likely spot on for the day. When not managing the distillery, he enjoys spending time at home with his wife, working in the yard and playing golf when possible. Brian is the Kevin Bacon of Indianapolis, less than six people away from knowing someone you know.