Means, Motive and Opportunity

Means, Motive and Opportunity

The folks at Ordinary like to be anything but. Over the past half-decade or so, they’ve hosted one themed popup after another: explosions of Christmas cheer, one-off tiki nights and prolonged yearly makeovers. The latter, timed for midsummer and fall, have included a tribute to Wes Anderson, a Twin Peaks diner experience and a “Big Top Carnival” takeover.

This year, the theme inspiration manages to be both nostalgic and mysterious: Clue. “Over COVID, I played Clue a bunch of times and remembered how fun it is!” co-owner Tim Cabral explains. “While playing and looking at the board game itself, it hit me that Ordinary had a look and feel like some of the rooms. So I brought it to the team and they were excited about it.”

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Cabral is right about the resemblance. Scenes from the 1985 movie based on the board game could probably have been filmed inside his bar. The dark oak paneling, ornately carved woodwork and old-world chandeliers really do recall the kind of mansion where eccentric elites might be invited to a mysterious and murderous dinner party.

A chalk portrait of Tim Curry’s Wadsworth, looking shocked by some new revelation conveyed by the note in his hand, is almost too natural against the back bar. Credit for that goes to local artist Jaime La Jones, who also created a playing card vignette over the bar and a spooky mansion above the lounge. Meanwhile, Todd Lyon of Fashionista Vintage & Variety dressed Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard, a pair of suspects—er, mannequins—positioned right where they can see you, on the wall opposite the bar.

The bar and kitchen staff, meanwhile, have released a menu of four cocktails inspired by the movie. The menu sounds likely to evolve with the popup, which will be active through November, but my favorites for now are the Singing Telegram ($14), a bubbly, citrusy whiskey cocktail with a bloody drip of Luxardo cherry syrup, and the Under the Sheet ($13), a gin cocktail that starts with aromas of Jolly Rancher and finishes with a bite. Ordinary is still offering their regular and happy hour menus, too, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Ordinary also has plans to collaborate with Elm City Games to create an interactive mystery customers can solve. Clues might be hidden on the menu or in the foyer museum area, which is already stocked with Clue board game variants and possible murder weapons. Costumes are also appreciated, Cabral says, so feel free to dress in your finest postwar tweeds, silks and monocles.

Costumed or not, if you’re feeling waterlogged and over-sunned by this point in the summer, the shrouded feeling and intoxicating elixirs of Ordinary’s Clue popup offer a mysterious invitation that, unlike it was for the characters of Clue, you’d be wise to accept.

Clue at Ordinary
990 Chapel St, New Haven (map)
Tues-Sat 5pm-midnight
(203) 907-0238

Written and photographed by Anna Konya.

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