Some bar owners swoop into a space and wipe out all traces of its predecessors. Others leave sly nods to those previous tenants—Long Island Bar still sports the iconic neon sign from the corner spot’s days as a midcentury greasy spoon. Miami-vibing Crown Heights newcomer King Tai is made of the latter stock, taking the name of the Chinese-American fish kitchen formerly housed in the once-dingy space, revamped with clean white walls, chrome barstools and soft pastel hues straight out of 1940s South Beach, capitalizing on the era’s tropical obsession without drowning the place in tiki kitsch.
ORDER THIS: The cocktail list is kept to a surprisingly tight five options, but all are reasonably priced ($9) and bountifully boozy, including the Palo Chino, a tequila-grapefruit Paloma riff zapped with honey vinegar. Don’t expect a sugary frozen concoction in the daiquiri but instead a return to the classic rum drink, with bright citrus notes courtesy of orange-blossom syrup and lime. To balance the booze, a warming drawer at the bar is loaded with tamales ($4), tasting as legit as if you’d purchased them from a cooler-hustling vendor on the beach.
GOOD FOR: A summery sojourn in Brooklyn. With a creamy piña colada in hand and breezy throwback pop tunes soundtracking the Art Deco–tinged space, beachified with shell motifs and a mounted sea dragon in the bathroom, you’ll quickly forget you’re on a quiet residential Kings County street.
THE CLINCHER: Sidle up straight to the bar for sterling service, where the bartenders are welcoming and keep the drinks coming as fast as you can sip them. Their attentiveness gives the joint an everybody-knows-your-name quality even as they efficiently turn out potent potables to keep even a jam-packed house hydrated. The decor may be vintage and the name a holdover, but the island vibe and skilled cocktail service is refreshingly new to the nabe.