Get Pawnee plastered at Vignettes’ Parks & Rec pop-up
“Do you think a depressed person could make this [review]? No.”
Whether one consumes one drink of alcohol per week, the whole shelf, or none at all, “Drinks and Recreation“ over at Vignettes (2376 Armour Blvd.) is a pleasant spot to bond over the beloved younger, smarter, better-looking cousin of The Office with the Burt Macklin to your Janet Snakehole and/or the best friend you’ve ever had—that one co-worker who’s name you never learned.
Up to code and set to run through May 20, this Parks and Recreation replication from the Apparition team features a 10-drink, three-shot menu by Scott Helling, design and decor by mainstays like Colleen King and Delaney Rose, calzones (they’re dumb), musical talent on weekends, and daily events including karaoke Sundays, stand-up comedy Tuesdays, “Pizza is Knowledge Trivia” each Wednesday, and Thursday bingo.
One enters into a recreation of Leslie’s office, also featuring a photo-optimal Little Sebastian and the signature “Welcome to Pawnee (good luck with that)” sign. Inside, you’ll be seated at a desk of one of the main characters before you’re free to look around for such easter eggs like a Cones of Dunshire replica, Jerry/Gary/Larry’s painting of Leslie as a topless centaur, an homage to the smallest park in Indiana (.000003 sq. mi.), Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness, and many more Insta-friendly references from the show’s seven-season run.
After barely reading the menu (as on brand as rolling up slightly late), I jumped on the “Snake Juice” based only on my love for Season 3, Episode 13, “The Fight.” It was a potent mix of absinthe, cognac, rye whiskey, and bitters accented with a Haribo twin-snake candy at the bottom (big fan of that last detail).
It didn’t exactly taste like rat poison, but it was close enough, and I was quite literally buzzed to the tits off it. Lucky for me, my guest had ordered the exact opposite with the “Treat Yo Self,” a strawberry-orange-pina colada slushie with heavy 2000s AMC Theater Icee vibes that also served as a fantastic chaser for the licorice-esque burn of my own drink.
The next round was, of course, for shots. I went with the “Tammy 1” (Ole Smokey Original Moonshine), while my plus-one ordered the “Tammy 2” (Jagermeister, peach schnapps, cran juice). “What’s it like to stare into the eye of Satan’s butthole?” It was a lot like the “Tammy 1,” if I’m being honest. And that was truthfully less horrible than I had expected. The third shot option, which I didn’t myself try, is the “Diane” (Bourbon, triple sec, lemonade).
As Maggie Boone belted out a well-received cover of Avril’s “Sk8r Boi” from a Mouse Rat flavored stage that included an Aubrey Plaza cutout, we ordered another round of cocktails in the “Burt Macklin” (a solid vodka, blue raspberry syrup, lemonade, served with souvenir aviator sunglasses), the “Money Pwease!” (Goldschlager, whipped-cream vodka, and prosecco), and the “Ice Town,” (Pinot grigio, elderflower liqueur, and blueberry syrup).
They were all very solid, but the latter of the three looked and tasted spectacular, and even if Ron Swanson avoids alcohols of that color, he is also on the record saying, “There is no wrong way to consume alcohol.” I’m not calling Duke Silver a hypocrite; I’m just saying that maybe the fact that his father put Wild Turkey on his cornflakes is part of the problem—and, more importantly, that blue alcohol is usually not bad.
The rest of the menu features the “Gin-U-Wine” (herbal gin, pinot grigio, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint), the “Very Good Cocktail Co.” (Lagavulin scotch, of course, plus sour mix, and an egg white), the “Joan Calla-Mezxal-O” (Mezcal, coconut rum, lime juice, garnished with powdered sugar pills), and the “B.S.L.K.D.M.D.J.D Or Jack” ( tequila, triple sec, passion fruit puree, and sour mix).
Larger groups can try “The Small,” a conglomeration of strawberry lemonade vodka, pink Moscato, and lemon-lime soda that serves two to four for $45. There is also Busch Light and Boulevard Wheat available, plus both cocktails starting with the letter B can be made alcohol-free.
Three kitchen items top off the menu, starting with the “All the Bacon You Have,” a double bacon breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and peppers on a ciabatta bun, alongside both a four-cheese or three-meat calzone option.
And so this review comes to a close on yet another memorable line from Mr. Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
A smooth and silky evening to you all,”indeed.
All photos by Anna Perry-Rushton