In INFUSED, a weekly column, Elizabeth J. Musgrave connects spirits, wine, and beer with culinary and creative arts
Eyes will be on Indy in the coming weeks for the running of the 96th Indianapolis 500. In honor of the special occasion, signature drinks have been created so everyone, whether in Indianapolis or elsewhere, can join in on the festivities and fun.
The Greatest Spectacle in Racing deserves only the smartest of cocktails to commemorate the event and, with that in mind, I tossed the idea out to restaurants, pubs, bars and venues, along with mixologists, sommeliers, bartenders and liquor companies to create drinks inspired by the most famous race in the world.
Taken into account were the ingredients, inspiration and insight into Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500 history and spirit. Here are the Top 10 Indy 500-inspired cocktails I believe best bring the spirit of "Back Home Again in Indiana."
10) Cocktail: Green Light Appletini
Company: Go Cocktails!
Inspiration: The flash of green light signaling the start of the Indianapolis 500.
Recipe: Go Cocktails! Appletini mix, regular vodka, water, Granny Smith apple garnish
9) Cocktail: 1977 Refined Janet Guthrie
Company: Refined Mixers
Inspiration: 1977 is the first time a woman qualified for and raced in the Indy 500. This cocktail was inspired by Janet Guthrie who was the first female driver to qualify and race in the Indy 500.
Recipe: 1 part Sweet Tea vodka, 1.5 part Refine Mixers margarita mix, pour over ice, garnish with fresh sprig of mint.
8) Cocktail: Pole Day Punch
Company: VOGA Italian Wine and Sparkling Ice
Inspiration: The Indianapolis 500 Party
Recipe: 2 Bottles of Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE, 1 bottle of dry red wine, ¼ cup Triple Sec, ¼ cup of Apple flavored vodka, 2 sliced peaches, 2 sliced Granny Smith apples, 1 c. fresh strawberries, 1 c. fresh raspberries, 1 c. seedless red grapes, 1 sliced lemon, 1 sliced lime, 1 liter club soda
Prepare all fruit and transfer to a large punch bowl. Add wine and Sparkling ICE, stir to combine flavors. For best results prepare and refrigerate overnight. Add the club soda right before serving to guests. Enjoy!
7) Cocktail: Start Your Engines
Restaurant: Aria Bar at The Fairmont, Mill
Inspiration: The power generated when the engines are started and revved.
Recipe: 1.5 oz Absolut Wild Tea vodka, 1 oz pineapple juice, .5 oz orange liqueur, 1 oz Grenadine
Pour all measured ingredients into the metal part of the shaker. “Start the engine” by mixing fervently, in a Boston shaker and served refreshed over ice in a Collins glass. Trophy it with an Amarena cherry.
6) Cocktail: Whiskey Berry Smash
Restaurant: Braddock's American Brasserie
Creator: Chef de Cuisine Brian Volmrich
Inspiration: "Hopefully we don't see too many accidents on the track at this year's Indy 500, but just in case, we've got a drink for that!"
Recipe: 2 oz. Maker's Mark Bourbon Whiskey, 1½ oz. cocktail mix (lemon & simple syrup), Blackberries, Raspberries, Dash of bitters
Simple syrup-mix equal oz. hot water and sugar until dissolved. Squeeze juice from lemon into simple syrup and stir. Muddle two blackberries and two raspberries in a cocktail shaker. Pour cocktail mix into shaker. Add bourbon, shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass.
Where: Pittsburgh, PA
5) Cocktail: The V8
Restaurant: Michael Jordan's Steak House
Inspiration: The 2012 Pace car- The Chevrolet Corvette
Recipe: 1oz soda water, 2 oz Lost Coast Great White Wheat Beer, 2 oz Lillet, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey, 2 dashes Creole bitters, 1 bar spoon of Pernod
4) Cocktail: Victory Lap
Restaurant: Food Tours Corporation
Creator: Jeff Swedarsky
Inspiration: The winner's victory lap. "I created it with everything local in mind, except the root."
Recipe: 1.5 oz. WH Harrison Bourbon, 1.5 oz root liquor, 1.5 oz Sun King Cowbell Milk Porter, 3 oz Mug N Bun root beer, .75 oz simple syrup infused with Indiana sour cherries, 3 oz fresh cherry juice, handful of fresh local strawberries
Muddle strawberries in a cocktail mixer. Add other ingredients and 4 ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Pour into tall highball glass. Drink should be amber with a light ½” head.
3) Cocktail: The Finish Line
Restaurant: The Elbow Room
Creator: Eli Sanchez
Inspiration: The checkered flag signifying the finish and winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Recipe: Start with full glass of ice, 1/2 oz Pinnacle Whipped, 1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur, top with milk leaving 1/4" rim, finish with whipped cream, leveling to rim of glass and dusting with cocoa powder with a checkered screen made of plastic to give checkered flag finish.
2) Cocktail: Smoke-n-Milk
Creator: Anthony Caporale
Inspiration: After winning his second Indy 500 race in 1933, Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk. He requested another glass in '36 after winning his third title, but instead received a bottle. With three fingers raised, he was captured by a photographer while drinking from that bottle, and the marketing opportunity wasn't lost on a local dairy executive. Unaware that Meyer was drinking buttermilk, the executive offered a bottle of milk to the winners of all future races, and milk has been presented at the conclusion of almost every Indy 500 since then. In honor of that tradition, Drambuie offers up an homage to this classic racing libation.
Recipe: In a shaker tin half filled with ice, add 1 oz DRAMBUIE, 1/2 oz Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch, shake until the tin is frosted, add 1 oz milk, swirl to chill thoroughly. Pour into a rocks glass, add 1 dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters, garnish with an orange twist. Serve with a cocktail stirrer.
1) Cocktail: Indianapolis Turbo-charged Frappe
Restaurant: Nicholson's Tavern & Pub
Creator: Joey Fredrickson, mixologist
Inspiration: “The Indy 500 is a fuel-driven, adrenaline-pumping, action-packed race to the finish. I want to have that same excitement and energy in these cocktails. I figured it wasn’t fair to let the cars have all the fun, so I created some fuel for myself. Those with heart conditions, please talk to your doctor before ingesting this libation."
Recipe: 1x2" lemon peel, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1.5 oz Three Olives triple shot espresso-flavored vodka, 1 oz freshly brewed coffee, 1 oz heavy cream, dash of cocoa powder
Press lemon peel into the simple syrup. Add vodka and coffee. Shake and strain into a martini glass (keep ice). Add heavy cream to the shaker tin, give a good shake then gently pour over the drink. Garnish with cocoa powder.
Where: Served May 25-27 in Cincinnati
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is the editor for GottaGo.us, writing the fine-living syndicated column and syndicated blog, Gotta Go. Published both in print and online at GottaGo.us, AroundIndy.com, and BroadwayWorld.com, Gotta Go offers reviews and recommendations on food and drink, the performing arts, and travel destinations.
Elizabeth is also a freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, and a leading Indianapolis performing arts and restaurant critic. She can be heard on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show as Indy’s entertainment adviser, and can also be found on Twitter,LinkedIn, and Facebook.