18th Amendment is aesthetically confused. The shiny, silver, black and glass façade doesn’t exactly blend with the rest of the block. (Not that one really wants to blend in with Mattress Discounters, which is about 4 doors down.) On the inside, the black walls and chrome-rimmed lights hearken back to an obliquely early-mid 1900’s metropolitan noir which, at least, is in tune with the exterior of the property. The front portion of the bar has lounge chairs and low tables that may have looked very chic in the early 90s in some under-21 club in suburban Indianapolis, but here they seem completely out of place. The new, very long, hand carved bar is kind of interesting in an amateurish way, but, again, it doesn’t fit with the other décor. In fact, the eastern half of the bar is homey in a way that makes the western half feel alien. The place can’t seem to make up its mind whether or not it’s going to be a dive bar or a swanky lounge, so it ends up looking ridiculous.
Now, despite the owner’s obvious mistakes in ambience development, it can be an alright joint to hang out in. The bar is often a bit understaffed, but the bartenders are a friendly lot and drinks can be got semi-cheaply. Food-wise, the burgers and wedge-fries are good and the pizzas aren’t too bad. We’re not so down with the Stromboli, but if you’re cool with the feeling of 7 weighty musket balls in your gut, give it a try.
Weekend crowds at 18th can vary wildly. We’ve been there at 12:30 on Saturday nights when it’s been virtually empty, and then again, we’ve been there at 10:08 pm when it was SRO and there were passed-out girls strewn across the first floor pool table laying in puddles of beer and Jagermeister. (Yes, you can still see the stains.)
The highlight of 18th Amendment for us is the Key-Hole Bar located in the basement. It has a sort of cave-like vibe and comes equipped with a pool table and an internet jukebox. It’s usually not too crowded, nor too loud, and makes for a good place to take a small group of peeps on your way to drunkville. Even with the jukebox kickin, you can spin yarns and listen to other conversations wafting about in the cavernous enclave. I was there just last week with my friend Smashley, and we overheard a Senate staffer quietly spilling his broken hearted guts out to some indifferent lass who had come with another staffer on her arm. An apparently non-related scuffle broke out too, and resulted in the spilling of the better part Smashley’s Yuengling, but in a twist of fate, two replacement beers were provided by the bartender, so we came out ahead.
Overall, a solid bar to drink in for the non-aesthete.