The Drive: Indianapolis, Indiana Miles: 315 Hair of the Dog: If you can pull yourself away from the bars, top off your weekend with a trip to the NCAA Hall of Champions, a short stumble from Nicky Blaine’s. www.ncaa.org/hall_of_champions
It will take a few minutes to absorb Indianapolis’ Chatterbox (435 Massachusetts Ave.). At first glance, this tiny jazz club has a smooth ambiance. The small tables are pushed close together like a New York City bar, and you cozy up next to the adjacent table but don’t talk because the music makes it too hard to understand each other. The music is above average, with local acts playing improvisation-heavy pieces.
But, just as you’re feeling like this little club might be too cool for Indiana — and for that matter, you — you’ll notice the checkered NASCAR flags and the Midwestern kitsch that says, “Yeah, we’re cool AND in Indianapolis. Enjoy our under-priced tasty Scotch, wear your suit or party dress if you wish, but we ain’t kicking you out if you’re sporting a torn T-shirt.”
Aside from the lack of any microbrews worth mentioning, the Indy bar scene is hot: foxy ladies, cool atmosphere, affordable drinks and decent jukeboxes.
When you’re ready to wind down, head over to Nicky Blaine’s (20 N. Meridian St.). This basement bar will hit you like an odd dream sequence (especially if you’ve had enough single-malt Scotches at Chatterbox first). Everyone is attractive. Several folks dressed in black are sharing open-mouthed kisses. Paintings of faceless, topless people who are cooler than you stare from the walls. House music and New Wave remixes drone on in the background.
Seated in one of the leather couches, you realize why everyone feels so comfortable sharing intimate moments in a public place: The giant bar feels as cozy as your living room. Cigars run from $3 to “please inquire” for the pre-embargoed Cubans. Buy the girl you met at Chatterbox a martini from the lengthy menu. Stay at the Omni Severin, a top-notch hotel within walking distance of most of downtown Indianapolis. www.omniseverin.com