King Tai Bar
1095 Bergen Street, Crown Heights
In the weeks that stretch between winter’s last gasps and the first real days of spring, it’s sometimes hard to know where you want to drink. Those dark, wood-paneled fireplace bars seem a little too bunker-like now that the signs of thaw are upon us, and it will still be a month before sitting on a roof or in a backyard with a frosty beer will be anything but an act of defiance against the elements. In March, I want to drink somewhere that’s open and bright, but still indoors, a place that gestures at the seasonal change but isn’t wholly invested in it.
What luck that King Tai Bar would open in the midst of this seasonal ambivalence. The Crown Heights watering hole advertised itself when it opened as being “1940s Miami Beach”-themed, which conjured up visions of kitschy décor and tiki drinks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—some of my best friends happen to be tiki drinks—but it doesn’t do justice to this charming, homey spot off Nostrand Avenue.
The space, housed inside a former Chinese restaurant, is fairly small, but manages to convey spaciousness all the same. The vibe is beachy, but not in a Jimmy Buffet way: Clean white walls, big windows, chrome bar stools, and subtle seashell décor (did you even know that was possible?) give the feeling that this is a place you might have stumbled upon while on vacation somewhere luxurious.
This isn’t the kind of bar that you’d want to throw a huge birthday party in—there’s just not that much space. Most of the seating is at stools or communal tables, with a lone circular booth at the back. But it’s just right for a drink to catch up with a friend, or for bringing a book on a Sunday afternoon. The menu offers a decent selection of beers on tap and by the bottle, as well as several house cocktails that hover around the $9 mark. They’re summery but not overly sweet, like the excellent daiquiri or a Palo Chino, a tequila concoction with grapefruit and a touch of vinegar.
But the really pleasant surprise is how seriously King Tai Bar takes their happy hour. Until 8, draft beers are just $4 and well drinks are $3.50, which is cheap enough to be dangerous to your wellbeing if you happen to live nearby, like I do. It’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but even if it isn’t walking distance from your apartment, King Tai is a bar worth the trek.