When mai-tai–sloshed, ’60s-styled PKNY shuttered abruptly in July 2013, it seemed to take the art of New Age tropical drinks—complete with paper umbrellas and artisanal bitters—to its rum-soaked grave. Veterans of the East Village drinnkery Ian Present, Sofia Present and Valentin Gonzalez, however, have resurrected the tiki-bar concept in, of all places, Queens. But the trio hasn’t merely transplanted the Manhattan staple to Forest Hills, they’ve entirely rejiggered its roots, tossing out the kitschy, bamboo-laden throwback in favor of a living-room–style lounge decked out with warm-wood wainscoting, brass rails and pop-rock tunes. At this neighborhood oasis, it’s about comfort, not camp.
ORDER THIS: Tropical tipples with as much flair as their 212 predecessors. The most attention-grabbing are the two-foot-tall punches laced with either sugary rum or floral gin and plenty of zippy citrus, and sometimes set aflame. The Jolly Stomper ($75), an homage to Gonzalez’s version at PKNY, serves four to six and arrives with a flamboyant display of orange-peel roses, tissue-paper peacocks and supersized twisty straws bursting from its crown. Gingery falernum charges ahead of gin and lime, but the slightly dry cabernet float counters its spice. The more modest mix-ups—made for one—include the rummy Dr. Funk ($12) overloaded with absinthe, a Tom Collins ($12) puckered with fresh grapefruit and a satisfyingly strong rye-gin concoction with house-made ginger beer and lime dubbed the Suffering Bastard ($12).
GOOD FOR: Escaping the city craze. Set away from the hubbub of Manhattan, overhyped Brooklyn and even fast-growing Long Island City (see: Dutch Kills, LIC Bar), the hangout offers refuge from sticker-shocking cocktails, cramped quarters and raucous hordes. Carved into a slim spot on Metropolitan Avenue close to good company (Michelin-starred Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen and gastropub Forest Hills Station House) the expansive dark-wood bar offers more than enough elbow room to enjoy those behemoth cocktails, as well as a pool table that thankfully doesn’t boast long waits for a cue.
THE CLINCHER: The trio’s tenure behind some of the city’s most notable bars (Pegu Club, Flatiron Room) means you can, and should, take advantage of their tumbler-shaking talent. Happily obliging a drift from the menu and inspired by a request for tequila on a recent night, Gonzalez melded mescal with sweet-but-sharp pineapple and a sprinkling of cinnamon to quell the spirit’s smokiness. The barkeeps’ experience translates to their rigorous service as well, with a keen eye on your need for a refill. And trust us—you’ll want one.