This post was originally published in honor of Parks’ 100th episode. We’ve updated it for the finale.
Let us all raise a glass to Parks and Recreation, which wraps up its seven-season run this week with an hourlong finale Tuesday. Who knows, the Pawnee parks department may drink along with us; booze has played a role in more than a fifth of the plots, thanks to the Snakehole Lounge, occasions to sip oversize margaritas, and epic Scotch-related quests. Having documented the characters’ many forays into boozeville, Vulture presents 26 of the show’s best drinking moments, in chronological order, along with thoughts on their authenticity.
1. “PILOT” (SEASON 1, EPISODE 1)
Drinking Plot: Leslie and the department down Champagne while celebrating the approval of their new park project.
Best Quote: Tom: “Every now and then, we have these little gatherings, and Leslie gets plastered. One time, I convinced her to try to fax someone a Fruit Roll-Up.”
Realism: Co-workers getting tipsy on some bubbly is one thing, but trying to fax a fruit snack is a bit too far-fetched for Leslie, who was a much ditzier character in the first season.
2. “BOYS CLUB” (S1, E4)
Drinking Plot: After Leslie receives a gift basket with wine in it, underage intern April posts a video of her drinking a bottle on the department’s Facebook page.
Quote: April: “Me and my best friend are doing an experiment to see what will get me drunker: drinking wine [takes a swig] or not drinking wine.”
Realism: An underage kid doing something dumb on social media? Totally believable. The same kid not getting fired from an internship for it? Not a chance.
3. “ROCK SHOW” (S1, E6)
Drinking Plot: After Leslie rebuffs his drunken advances on a bench near the Pit, Mark Brendanawicz leaves to walk home only to tumble down into the landfill below.
Quote: Leslie: “Mark and I are really connecting tonight, like we connected that night when we made love five years ago. There’s actually a lot of similarities between those two nights. It was also in a bar, and he was also pretty drunk.”
Realism: Alcohol resulting in bad romance and stupid injuries? Check and check.
4. “PAWNEE ZOO” (S2, E1)
Drinking Plot: After marrying two male penguins at the local zoo, a party is held in Leslie’s honor at the Bulge, Pawnee’s gay bar. Initially hesitant to take a public stance on same-sex marriage, Leslie succumbs to the crowd’s enthusiasm, downs a bunch of shots, and gets in the D.J. booth to sing along to Gaga’s “Poker Face,” earning the title of “Queen of the Gays.”
Quote: This exchange: Ron: “Have fun last night?” Leslie: “I had three drinks named after me, so that’s pretty fun.”
Realism: Let’s see you say no to free drinks while an entire bar is chanting your name and egging you on.
5. “PRACTICE DATE” (S2, E4)
Drinking Plot: Nervous about her first date with local cop Dave (Louis C.K.), Leslie goes on a trial run with Ann, only to get plastered and show up unannounced at Dave’s house, revealing her bra strap, and, speaking to the camera, proclaiming that she can tell Dave wants her — while he sits a few feet away. He drives her home, then comes to her office the next day to tell her that counts as their first date and she can make it up to him that night on their second try.
Quote: Leslie: “Well, we went on our first date and I didn’t even know it, a.k.a., I nailed it. No fires, no ambulances, just good old-fashioned showing up drunk at a guy’s house late at night.”
Realism: We’d like to believe that no thirtysomething woman of Leslie’s intelligence could be this awkward and ridiculous but somewhere, somehow, someone must have done something similar.
6. “HUNTING TRIP” (S2, E10)
Drinking Plot: During a department hunting trip, someone accidentally shoots Ron, who then washes down eight of Donna’s menstrual-pain pills with nearly a full bottle of 20-year-old scotch.
Quote: Ron [delirious]: “When I look at my palm I see a lady’s mouth french-kissing a dog. Is that normal?”
Realism: Weaker men than Ron have done worse and survived. Just look at Motley Crue.
7. “TOM’S DIVORCE” (S2, E11)
Drinking Plot: Tom’s green-card marriage to his Canadian wife Wendy is over, though he’s obviously still in love with her. The gang tries to cheer him up with dinner and drinks at the dinosaur-themed restaurant Jurassic Fork. When that doesn’t do the trick, Leslie and Ron take him to Pawnee’s strip club, the Glitter Factory, where Tom passes out and needs to be carried home.
Quote: This exchange: Leslie: “How could there still be glitter on me?” Tom: “It takes forever to get it off. My crotch looks like a disco ball.”
Realism: A heartbroken divorcé seeking alcohol and topless women is about as legit of a plot as you can get, as is the resulting emptiness Tom feels.
8. “SWEETUMS” (S2, E15)
Drinking Plot: During a corporate event, Ron has three whiskeys and Leslie won’t let him drive home. The next morning, he brings a harp into the office and explains he built it while having an additional six drinks, with photos to prove it. Later, Leslie finds Ron at a restaurant eating two steaks, a.k.a. “turf and turf,” drinking whiskey, and about to smoke a cigar, just to prove that he has the American right to be unhealthy. He comes around when Leslie reveals she’s written his eulogy, which begins “Oh, Captain my captain: Ron Swanson, a swan song.”
Quote: Ron: “Swansons have a preternaturally high tolerance for alcohol. My old man used to put Wild Turkey on his corn flakes.”
Realism: We can buy it, given Nick Offerman’s real-life talent for woodworking, though we hope he’s healthier.
9. “TELETHON” (S2, E22)
Drinking Plot: Tom is sent to pick up former Indiana Pacer Detlef Schrempf, the star guest of Leslie’s diabetes telethon, but instead drives him to local club the Snakehole Lounge, of which he’s a part owner. Ever the lightweight, Tom gets drunk with his famous “friend,” forcing Detlef to drive to the telethon. On live TV, Tom — introducing himself as Tommy Timberlake — gets onstage and screams, “By the way, I’m drunk!”
Quote: This exchange: Tom: “Did you ever talk to someone and be like, ‘We’re gonna be best friends’? I’m getting that right now!” Detlef: “He had two beers. Light beers.”
Realism: Aziz Ansari is a tiny man, but getting sloshed on two light beers would only be believable if it were his first time drinking.
10. “THE MASTER PLAN” (S2, E23)
Drinking Plot: This episode marks a huge change for several characters, all of which are good excuses for a few beverages. First, April turns 21 and celebrates at the Snakehole, while her romantic awkwardness with Andy continues. Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe) are introduced and suspend the parks project owing to budget cuts. Ann’s post-breakup relationship with Mark deteriorates, leading both women to get drunk while playing quarters, before Leslie fights with Ben. During the next day’s hangover, Ann can’t remember who she kissed while blacked out. Tom has to return to the bar because he forgot to settle his tab. To make amends, Ben takes Leslie out for a beer — at 10:30 in the morning — because she looks “like she could use one.” Ann, after talking to all the men in the office, finally remembers it was Chris she kissed, after doing karaoke to Kenny Loggins’s “Danger Zone.”
Quote: Leslie: “You know what’s thirsty? You know what’s weird? How thirsty I get when I’m weird— when I’m drunk.”
Realism: Anger drinking, depression drinking, a sloppy 21st birthday, forgetting a credit card, hair of the dog, a blacked-out make-out session, and eighties karaoke all add up to a night that hits home for many of us (as best we can remember).
11. “RON AND TAMMY: PART TWO” (S3, E4)
Drinking Plot: Ron’s inability to resist his ex-wife Tammy (played by Nick Offerman’s real wife, Megan Mullaly) rears its ugly head again. This time, the former flames end up in jail after breaking into city hall, then getting remarried, with a corn-rowed Ron also having pierced his penis. He eventually sobers up and comes to his senses, once again breaking it off with Tammy.
Quote: This exchange: Ben: “Oh, well, look at that. You shaved off part of your mustache. That’s lovely.” Ron: “I didn’t shave it off. It rubbed off. From friction.”
Realism: Reuniting with a deranged ex, cornrows, and a Prince Albert piercing seem like the only kind of thing one would do when completely crocked. Still, a quickie wedding in a sleepy Indiana town? Please.
12. “ANDY AND APRIL’S FANCY PARTY” (S3, E9)
Drinking Plot: While Andy and April have their surprise wedding, Donna and Ann end up at the same singles mixer. After giving some much-needed advice to Ann, Donna orders two shots of Jameson’s, then downs them at the same time, like a boss. Naturally, there’s also plenty of imbibing at the wedding, with Ron offering his wisdom about love to Leslie while they share a drink outside, inspiring her to ask Ben to stay in Pawnee.
Quote: Tom: “One of my life goals is to be a best man. It’s a baller position. You get drunk, you make speeches, and you make you love to the prettiest bridesmaid, usually standing from behind.”
Realism: Drinks at a wedding and a few loosen-up cocktails at a singles mixer seem completely reasonable, although most weddings we’ve been to usually involve someone overdoing it.
13. “THE FIGHT” (S3, E13)
Drinking Plot: Tom invites everyone to the Snakehole to try out his Kahlua-style liqueur made of “a bunch of alcohol … some sugar and coffee, and some other junk.” Everyone gets obliterated. Leslie and Ann get into a blowout argument over a bunch of simmering issues, with both women preposterously agreeing to end their friendship. The next day all the drinkers have horrible hangovers except Ron, who brings cheeseburgers to help ease the Snake Juice pain.
Quote: This exchange: Leslie: “Oh my God, I’m so hung-over. I’ve never been this hung-over.” Ben: “I feel great. I ran 5K this morning.” Leslie: “Really?” Ben: “No, I threw up in the shower.”
Realism: Pretty legit. We wonder why nobody called in sick the next day, but we’re willing to suspend all disbelief because of dancing drunk Ron Swanson:
14. “ROAD TRIP” (S3, E14)
Drinking Plot: While out to dinner after a successful meeting, Ben confesses his feelings for Leslie. After talking over the situation with Ann, Leslie says that she’s had enough to drink to get up the courage to finally kiss Ben and pursue the relationship.
Quote: Leslie: “I care about him very much and I’ve had two and a half glasses of red wine and what that means is I’m gonna go make out with him right now and it’s gonna be awesome.”
Realism: Though Leslie has shown she can handle way more booze in the past, we’ll believe a bit of wine would lessen her inhibitions enough to finally succumb to her burning desire.
15. “RON AND TAMMYS” (S4, E2)
Drinking Plot: Ron’s IRS-agent first wife, Tammy I (Patricia Clarkson), returns to Pawnee to audit him, then proceeds to brainwash him, just like Tammy 2. Fearing they’ll lose Ron forever, Leslie enlists Ron’s mom, Tammy 0, to help, leading to what the Swansons call a “prairie drink-off,” a chugging contest involving an extremely potent moonshine. The winner between the Tammys gets possession of Ron, leading Leslie to throw her hat in the ring. Unfortunately, she soon backs out when her face goes numb and she starts hallucinating. Ron eventually downs the remaining hooch to end the contest and stay in Pawnee.
Quote: Ron: “That’s Swanson family mash liquor, made from the finest corn ever grown on American soil. It’s only legal use is to strip varnish off of speedboats.”
Realism: It’s one thing to drink like the people on Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners, but we’ll go out on a limb and say that any booze used to “burn warts off of the mules” is too much for any human to handle.
16. “BORN & RAISED” (S4, E3)
Drinking Plot: Leslie hopes to get her book, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, endorsed by local TV host Joan Callamezzo. To help matters, Ben and Tom take the soon-to-be-divorced Joan to lunch, where she gets drunk, makes explicit passes at Tom, and has to be carried home. She returns to the show, goes on the air still drunk, and blames bad seafood.
Quote: This exchange: Joan: “Drink up, Tom. I’m gonna go powder my nose … amongst other things … if you know what I mean.” Ben [to Tom]: “Is she going to powder her vagina?”
Realism: Given what goes on with Hoda and Kathie Lee in the fourth hour of Today, it’s not too preposterous that a TV host would go on the air a little tipsy. Then again, Joan almost definitely would’ve just called in sick, which wouldn’t be nearly as funny.
17. “SWEET SIXTEEN” (S4, E16)
Drinking Plot: Thanks to his Leap Day birthday, Jerry is turning 16, so the gang throws a party. Now dating Ann, Tom is freaking out that they have very little in common, especially when it comes to fashion and knowing who Ginuwine is. Both of them confide in April, who drunkenly tells them to break up. Her advice has the opposite effect, as she screams at them, “Don’t listen to me! I’m drunk!”
Quote: April: “I was kind of getting sick of hearing Tom and Ann talk about their relationship, but then I remembered alcohol existed. [Takes a swig of Champagne.] Thanks, alcohol.”
Realism: Annoying friends whining about relationships can easily drive one to drink, and booze-influenced advice has a high tendency to work out horribly. Sorry, April.
18. “LUCKY” (S4, E18)
Drinking Plot: Leslie is set to be interviewed by a prominent news anchor at their local airport, but when the spot gets canceled, she, Tom, and Ann head to a bar to drink margaritas and flaming tequila shots. All of a sudden, Ben calls to say the interview is back on, and Leslie decides not to back out. She mumbles her way through the discussion while the anchor repeatedly insults Pawnee and the airport. She finally melts down when asked about her relationship with Ben, blurting out that she’s had a few drinks before storming off the stage. Leslie, Ben, Ann, and Tom drive to the anchor’s house to pressure him into spiking the broadcast only to find that his bags, along with the tape, went missing — all thanks to the offended airport staff.
Quote: Leslie: “The interview’s back on! We are so drunky, lucky.”
Realism: Someone getting interviewed on the air while drunk has happened before and will happen again, but we don’t buy that kind of idiocy from Leslie.
19. “WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW” (S4, E22)
Drinking Plot: On election night, Leslie and her team wait out the results at an after-party. At the bar, Ben orders a gin and tonic but Ron interrupts and makes him drink a manlier Lagavulin neat, making Ben gag. Leslie wins the city council seat, the team celebrates, and a drunk Ann says she wants to move in with Tom, who makes her swear that she can’t take it back when she sobers up.
Quote: Ron: “Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.”
Realism: It’s as good a time as any to celebrate, but as for Ron’s comment, it’s not like Ben was ordering an Appletini.
20. “TWO PARTIES” (S5, E10)
Drinking Plot: Ben’s bachelor party starts off with the guys having a few beers and playing Settlers of Catan, then turns into an epic adventure once the others reveal they never had their own stag nights. Though they don’t seem to get that drunk, Tom takes them to a molecular gastronomy bar where drinks are served in lotion and vapor form, and Ron treats them to a steak and scotch dinner.
Quote: Ron [to Tom, before they go to Essence, the molecular bar]: “So, there’s no wrong way to consume alcohol.” [Cut to Ron at Essence, watching Tom inhale his “aromasphere” cocktail]: “This is the wrong way to consume alcohol.”
Realism: The guys look pretty good for a bachelor party that ends at sunrise. And while we have yet to see drinks that come in flashlight form, we are perpetually amazed at the ridiculous lengths high-end clubs will go to sell you booze.
21. “LONDON” (S6, E1)
Drinking Plot: After being unimpressed with his trip to England, Leslie has a special surprise for Ron: a scavenger hunt that leads him to the small Scottish island of Islay to visit the distillery of Lagavulin, his favorite whisky. He learns the craft of brewing, herds sheep up the hills, and, per Leslie’s instructions, recites the Robert Burns poem “O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair” while sitting cliffside. “I dont know what she thought I’d get out of that,” he says, holding back tears.
Quote: Ron: “All my life, I’ve avoided Europe and its multitudes of terribleness. But it turns out, much to my surprise, there is actually one place in Europe that is worth seeing: these tiny islands off the coast of Scotland, where God’s chosen elixirs are distilled, barreled, and prepared for consumption. This is worth the trip.”
Realism: Say what you will about Europe, but you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the lush beauty of the Scottish isles. A few drams of Scotch make the views even better.
22. “RECALL” (S6, E7)
Drinking Plot: When Leslie’s voted off the city council, she falls into a nihilistic depression that leads to her drowning her sorrows at a local pub with Ben. When he tries to cheer her up, she only drags him down, making him think he peaked at 18 years old. They decide to do something epic, so they head to a pawn shop to get pen-ink tattoos. Ann shows up in time to stop them, and later a wasted Ben flushes his keys down the toilet.
Quote: Leslie [to pawn clerk]: “I want a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt tastefully done, and then she has a very classy tattoo of Pat Benatar on her arm, and that’s very subtle. No, scratch that. Scratch all that. Just write ‘Ben.’”
Realism: There’s a reason Washington, D.C., instituted a 24-hour waiting period for tattoos.
23. “NEW BEGINNINGS” (S6, E11)
Drinking Plot: Donna and April celebrate Ben’s promotion to city manager with a vicious prank that makes him think he’s about to be arrested. (You know how Ben feels about cops.) After his own revenge prank goes awry, the group hashes out their differences over a post-work beer.
Quote: Donna, to Ben: “We didn’t prank you because we dislike you. We pranked you because we respect you.” Andy: “R-E-S-P-E-G-T!”
Realism: Nothing much happens, which makes it the most realistic onscreen happy hour ever.
24. “FLU SEASON 2” (S6, E18)
Drinking Plot: The gang visits a vineyard, where April and Craig audition to be sommeliers, and Ron plys Ben with blueberry wine to stop him from opening up emotionally. (It doesn’t work, but it does get him super-drunk.) Walking home, Ben and Ron meet Sam Elliott’s Ron Dunn and go on a spiritual journey.
Quote: Ben: “My teeth are blue … blueberries are alcoholic … I was just saying to Ron that my dog’s Jewish.”
Realism: For a man as wise as he is, Ron should know that getting someone drunk is the worst way to make them shut up about their feelings.
25. “LESLIE & RON” (S7, E4)
Drinking Plot: Locked together in the Parks Department overnight, Leslie and Ron are forced to repair their broken friendship with the help of Billy Joel and what looks like copious amounts of alcohol.
Quote: Leslie: “Harry Truman was a guy, ‘Merica, Red China, all the countries, other people, everything is fun.”
Realism: Borderline. Not even alcohol could make ten hours of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” tolerable.
26. “DONNA & JOE (S7, E7)
Drinking Plot: Faced with an opportunity to run for Congress, Ben deals with the stress of the decision by getting incredibly hammered at Donna’s wedding. He wakes up the next morning to find he drunk-dialed Jen Barkley with a very detailed political platform.
Quote: Jen: “You guys are gonna fit in so great in Washington. Most of Congress is drunk all the time.”
Realism: Rare is the person who has not gotten embarrassingly drunk at a wedding, but rarer still is the drunk dial that ends this well.