Bars keep popping up on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, trying to keep up with the neighborhood’s gentrification as it moves east from Franklin. In 2013, Nostrand Avenue Pub opened up and was joined in 2015 by the sleek Two Saints and Miami-influenced King Tai. Now, another bar is vying for your dollars and thirst for booze: tiki joint Super Power (722 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-484-0020).
The bar’s unmissable bright blue signage and wooden menu-holding monkey have gotten the neighborhood’s attention. Super Power opened at the start of June by the team behind Prospect Heights’ the Bearded Lady, as well as two other friends. There are four partners, all of whom spent some time working at Gowanus Yacht Club and now run in the same social circle. One of those partners, Justin Olsen, tells the Voice they had been looking in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens as well as Bed-Stuy before settling in on Nostrand between Park and Prospect Places.
“It’s a really good commercial stretch,” Olsen says. “We share a broad customer base with Bearded Lady, but there are a lot of new faces here.” Two of the partners as well as a few of the bartenders live in the neighborhood themselves, making them all the more comfortable.
“We wanted to do something more with a tropical bent, because it’s a lot of fun to play with,” Olsen says. As they built out the space, a tiki menu started to emerge. It’s a foundation that allows a lot of room for play and experimentation — and isn’t too serious. “One of the things we ran into at Bearded Lady is that people thought we were very cocktail-intensive,” he notes. “There was a perceived seriousness and that’s not something we wanted to convey at all, and it took us a long time to overcome that.”
With the bright palm-leaf wallpaper covering the space, a pinball machine in the back, and a glowing neon volcano logo, they’re certainly trying to kill any presumptions of pretentious mixology right out of the gate.
In a neighborhood that Olsen thinks skews younger, that’s important. The cocktails are all approachable and priced at $10 (with a super-size version of their John the Beachcomber available with two or three straws for $20), offered up with the over-the-top garnishes in kitschy glassware that you expect from the rum-heavy style.
Each drink is decidedly strong and singular: The Beach Vibes is a blue cocktail that won’t make you queasy from its sweetness, thanks to herbal notes from Galliano liqueur. The Super Fashioned — a rum-fueled take on the Old Fashioned — is for the grown-ups, while that John the Beachcomber, with its three kinds of rum, will knock you out. Those who drink with Instagram in mind will want the Slow Reveal, which is smooth thanks to cashew orgeat and served in a pineapple chalice. Olsen says the most popular drink so far is their frozen tiki White Russian, made with coconut cream.
“There’s so much wrapped up in the word mixology and the idea of someone with suspenders or a bow tie,” Olsen says. “That’s not what bars are about. They’re about having fun and being at ease.” Super Power has brought some of that tiki ease to Crown Heights, along with a much-needed bit of serious cocktail consideration.