May 29 2015 06:47 PM

New University Heights bar not afraid of dessert cocktails

Park Bench cocktail

During the May opening party for Park&Rec (4612 Park Boulevard), a frequent guest from when the location went by a different name points out a showerhead hanging from the ceiling behind a bandstand. The showerhead was used during wet t-shirt contests when Bourbon Street was one of the most popular gay bars in University Heights.

There's no talk of those contests continuing (we're in a drought, folks) at the new Park&Rec, a product of John Pani of ELE Collective (Waypoint Public, Hotel Vyvant) and partner Andy Zlotnik. The wet-and-wild entertainment now comes served in a glass, via crafty cocktails created by the Revelry Cocktail Co. duo of Trevor Easter and Anthony Schmidt. Both consulting partners have worked at Noble Experiment and other notable bars around town; Easter will continue pouring playful, classic cocktails at Park&Rec for the immediate future.

Schmidt says the new cocktail menu is meant to be a catch-all. "This bar is a place where everybody can be comfortable hanging out and having a few drinks," he says.  

There are two points Schmidt emphasizes when describing the Park&Rec drink offerings. The first is that they are not afraid of dessert cocktails. They're doing a version of a milkshake/mudslide called The Slide (aged rum, coffee liqueur, cream and chocolate malt).

"These can be taboo for bartenders," says Schmidt. "They tend to be messy to prepare."

The other important factor behind the bar is technique that enhances speed. "Instead of taking the time to muddle drinks, we're infusing liquor," he says. An example is a tall and fizzy drink called Dos Ojos. It's cucumber-infused tequila, lime, ginger and soda water.

"We do the infusing ahead of time," says Schmidt. "In the case of the Dos Ojos, we soak tequila in the cucumber for days. When you serve it, it's the most vibrant, fresh cucumber you've ever tasted. And way faster to serve than any muddling."

On weekends, Park&Rec is offering a Liquid Brunch menu. Courtyard sippers include a Bloody Mary and Tony's Margarita, each available with different takes on that ready-on-call cucumber-infused tequila.

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