San Diego’s stunning new courtyard cocktail destination
Park & Rec
As one of the most anticipated summer openings of 2015, the concept blends world-class cocktails by So Cal’s latest beverage consulting duo, Trevor Easter (Noble Experiment, Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch) and Anthony Schmidt (Fairweather, Rare Form, Noble Experiment), with a charming patio party-vibe. Over a year in the making, Park & Rec is the vision of San Diego hospitality industry veteran John Pani (ELE Collective: Waypoint Public, Hotel Vyvant).
The 5,000 square-foot space embraces the city’s year-round patio-perfect weather with three uniquely distinct ‘cocktail houses’ (revamped and restored to resemble the historic craftsman-style bungalows that dot Park & Rec’s charming University Heights neighborhood) centered around the venue’s lush, open-air courtyard — which invites imbibers to partake in a variety of backyard antics including recreational table games such as ping-pong, darts, and shuffleboard.
THE CONCEPT | ODE TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
As one of San Diego’s oldest communities, University Heights’ rich history dates back to the city’s first land boom during the late-1880s. Nestled in the heart of this charming locale, Park & Rec’s 5,000 square foot property has been home to a variety of popular watering holes over the last 50 years and now breathes new life into a well-loved neighborhood gem.
A wink and a nod to the neighborhood’s former ostrich farm (relocated by Harvey Bentley from Coronado to University Heights in 1904), the concept embraces the image of ‘the University Heights ostrich’ throughout the space. A play on the venue’s name “Park” (Park Blvd.) & “Rec”, the lush courtyard conjures images of backyard antics with a variety of recreational table games, such as ping-pong, darts and shuffleboard.
DRINK | REVELRY COCKTAIL CO.
In collaboration with San Diego’s latest beverage consulting duo Revelry Cocktail Co., Park & Rec enlists the help of nationally acclaimed barkeeps, Trevor Easter (Noble Experiment, Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch, Heaven’s Dog) and Anthony Schmidt (Fairweather, Rare Form, Noble Experiment) to curate a playful assortment of classically-driven cocktails.
With names such as Park Bench, See Saw and Merry-Go-Round, the cocktails offer a cheeky take on Park & Rec’s playground-inspired theme that resonates throughout the space. The debut menu blends a variety of ten ‘Light & Refreshing‘ summertime sippers alongside four signature ‘P&R Old Fashioned‘ cocktails. Park & Rec’s ‘Lo-Ballers,’ a unique twist on the traditionally boozier ‘high ball’ category, introduce a new breed of cocktails by adding an intriguing modifier to the base spirit to create a lighter and more refreshing beverage. The Carousel, with grapefruit vodka, elderflower and soda, and Trolley Barn, with bourbon, averna, absinthe and root beer, are two among four new Lo-Baller creations. Ushering in the ultimate warm weather refresher, The Slide gives a major upgrade to the old fashioned milkshake with a slushy induced combination of aged rum, coffee liqueur, cream and chocolate malt.
Alongside Park & Rec’s 19 count cocktail lineup, the venue offers a selection wine, 12 beers on tap, and canned beers appropriately dressed in Park & Rec branded koozies so brews can cool down as guests drink up.
EAT | ROYALE WITH CHEESE
Park & Rec’s in-house snack shack offers savory selections by Royale with Cheese, a food cart concept born out of Austin, Texas. Burgers, grilled cheese and tater tots reign supreme on Royale’s order at the counter-style menu. Owner Jordan Brownwood previously premiered his hand-built cart and gourmet cheesy creations to great fanfare at the infamous SXSW film and music festival and has been serving his Pulp Fiction-inspired munchies in the back of the Shangri-La Bar in downtown Austin for the last two years before migrating back home to San Diego.
DESIGN | CRAFTSMAN BUNGALOWS & ARCHITECTURAL CHARM
Paying homage to the craftsman bungalows that dot the University Heights neighborhood, the concept draws on the unique structure of the pre-existing property. Designer Marianne Berg (Waypoint Public) worked with ELE Collective to keep many historical aspects intact including original stained glass windows, ornate wooden doors, and intricate molding, which celebrate the architectural tradition of the neighborhood. Three detached cocktail houses were revamped to create separate yet unique experiences within the expansive open-air courtyard. The main bar, and largest of the three, was designed to resemble an old-school varsity club, complete with smoke-hued brick walls, brass light fixtures, gilded wallpaper, and a sunny, street-facing patio. The garage bar features original exposed beams, hardwood floors, a roll up window revealing an oversized Ferris wheel graphic. A multiuse, custom steel back bar was built to mimic the wheel’s interior mechanism, jumping out of the art for a 3-D effect. Murals and installations by local artist Christopher Konecki (Waypoint Public) can be seen throughout the courtyard. Finally, the back garden cottage is nestled at the rear of the compound with greenhouse-style windows and ivy trellis flanking the bar.
SUNDAY DAY CAMP FOR ADULTS | WEEKEND BRUNCH
Weekends at Park & Rec welcome a more leisurely, indulgent brunch experience, offering plenty of activities to keep the party going long into the afternoon. Royale with Cheese serves up an assortment of mouthwatering breakfast sandwiches complemented by Park & Rec’s ‘Liquid Brunch’ menu, which highlights five refreshing cocktails, perfect for courtyard sipping – including the Bloody Mary, French 75, P&R Pimms Cup, Tony’s Margarita and the Paloma. Adding to the revelry, a stellar lineup of ‘Sunday Day Camp’ entertainment is slated to include local DJs and live music, rounding out Park & Rec’s status as San Diego’s ultimate weekend destination.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Open 7 days a week Monday through Friday | 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Weekends | 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Happy Hour | Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., $7 select cocktails