749 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
The night I went to Little King, I lost my favorite ring. This is not the kind of event I had predicted for the evening—the kind where, due to the waterfall drinking you do, and the all-encompassing socializing that follows, you lose track of time, and the things you brought with you.
This handkerchief-sized bar—which opened last fall with a full liquor license and a kitchen that makes above average small plates—looks like a cross between a pub inside a castle (black and white check floors), an Art Deco hideout (a brass door entrance, strong geometric fixtures) and an English country home (storm-blue wainscot wall paneling). It appears to be the kind of place that wants you to quietly discuss your day while you sip cocktails and nibble on scallop crudo with a side of fries.
And, it is not not that kind of place. But I went to Little King the night before my friend embarked on a petrifying 28-day stretch without alcohol—”Dry February,” as the kids call it. So, being honest with ourselves, we acknowledged that, when two of our friends joined, there was a chance the night could devolve from casual bar conversation at 7:00 p.m., with a couple of Big Queens (bourbon, Carpano, brandy, Batavia with cinnamon and bitters), to a full-on splay of people across banquettes (which exist in the color aqua, invitingly, along the periphery), at 2:00 a.m., Victoria lagers dangling in hand.
The beauty of that night, and of the bar itself, is that it was—that it is—very much both of these realities. Little King allows you to be regal however you prefer: self-contained, with refined tastes, or an indiscriminate consumer of drink and good times. Either way, they’ll keep you around.
As stated, our evening veered toward scenario number two, and the next morning I realized I’d lost my gold ring in the midst of it. No problem, I thought, it was a sacrifice to the gods of lost but very sweet New York City nights. On a whim, I returned a week later and inquired after it. A glint of recognition appeared in the bartender’s eye. He went to the cash register, and presented it to me.
“It was my favorite ring,” I told him, in disbelief.
“Now it can be your favorite bar, too,” he said.