The Elaborate Literature-Themed Bar Located In The Cayman Islands

Asked to imagine a library bar, most of us will conjure a room with dark paneled walls, slightly worn wingback chairs, and snifters filled with expensive cognac; basically some version of a 19th-century British men's club — and definitely the opposite of Library by the Sea. The new literature-themed bar located at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa takes the image of a stodgy library bar and turns it on its head. The result is a carefully curated experience designed to appeal to serious bibliophiles. And despite its tropical setting, the Library by the Sea vibe is much more than beach-bar-meets-books.

Opened in December 2022, the bar is the result of thoughtful planning and research — a combined effort by designers and mixologists to create an authentic space. According to a company statement, Library by the Sea is located in the hotel lobby, with floor-to-ceiling windows revealing an expanse of white-sand beach. Designed by Dayna Lee of Los Angeles-based Powerstrip Studio, the space features meaningful local accents. The bar is made from wood reclaimed from the welcome area at the island's former airport, and an authentically restored traditional catboat hangs from the ceiling.

"You won't find any creaky old armchairs or candlelit aisles of dusty leather-bound books in Library by the Sea," said Steven Andre, general manager of Kimpton Seafire Resort. "[The décor is] the perfect visual accompaniment to the inventive cocktails that Jim Wrigley and his team have dreamed up."

Cocktails by the books

Library by the Sea offers an immersive sensory experience — patrons relax surrounded by books while sipping on cocktails inspired by classic literature. To develop the drinks menu, Jim Wrigley, the beverage manager at the Kimpton Seafire Resort, led a research-and-development team on a quest to create not just drinks but drinkable stories. For example, From Cayman With Love –botanical-infused local sugarcane spirit, seaweed- and sea mineral-adjusted vermouth, and a tropical cordial served in hand-fired local pottery and garnished with a pearl onion — brings to life Quarrel, a fictional Caymanian fisherman who first appeared in Ian Fleming's 1954 novel, "Live and Let Die" (via 007James).

Murder in the Afternoon pays homage to Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" by imagining Christie's fictional character Hercule Poirot, the mustachioed private detective with a nose for solving mysteries (via The Home of Agatha Christie), drawing on elements from cocktails like Kir Royale and Death in the Afternoon to create a mysterious blend of house-made liqueur, pear eau-de-vie, cassis, crème de menthe, absinthe, and champagne. And, of course, Ernest Hemingway, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was known to enjoy a daiquiri in his day, gets a nod. Library by the Sea has recreated Hemingway's personalized favorite daiquiri, a replica of the drink he sipped back in the 1930s at La Floridita in Havana, Cuba. It's a shaken cocktail made from 1932 Bacardí and 1932 Maraschino with fresh lime and grapefruit.

Reading is fundamental

Let's recap. So far, we have books and cocktails inspired by books in a beachfront bar. But the immersive experience doesn't end there. According to Kimpton Seafire Resort, the cocktail menu at Library by the Sea reads like a book complete with a table of contents and chapters — Short Stories (apéritifs-style drinks), Page Turners (literary-inspired cocktails), Masterpieces (cocktails concocted for sharing), and Rare & First Editions (time-tested vintage spirits highlighted in a revolving roster of limited-edition libations).

Like any 007 tale of intrigue, mixologists at Library by the Sea channel a bit of Q, Ian Fleming's fictional master of gadgetry (via Spy Who Thrills), into the creative process. Think rotary evaporators, refrigerated centrifuges, sous vides, 3D printers, and a Thermomix. There's also the occasional secret elixir in the form of infused spirits, liqueurs, cordials, syrups, and purées made in-house (via Drift). And lest we forget the books that inspired the cocktails, Library by the Sea curated a digital collection for patrons who want to dig deeper into the story behind the beverage as they savor their libations. That's in addition to the bar's old-world collection of vintage books and magazines.