The World's Best Bars for Bookworms
As any bibliophile knows, there are few things better than curling up with a captivating read. However, throwing a few cocktails into the mix might just be one of them. From lavish library lounges to speakeasies concealed behind revolving bookcases, there's no shortage of destinations that expertly blend the complementary worlds of liquor and literature. So without further ado, here are some of the world's best bars for bookworms.
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Anyone planning a trip to Buenos Aires should prioritize visiting the quiet, tree-lined barrio (or neighborhood) of Palermo Chico. The lush area is home to Casa Cavia, one of the city's most exciting new bars. Housed in a Belle Epoque building dating back to 1927, this chic hideaway reopened last April after a series of upgrades and refurbishments. In addition to serving some of the most delicious cocktails in Argentina's capital (each inspired by celebrated writers from around the world), the unique space is also home to a restaurant, flower shop, bookstore and library brimming with new and classic titles.
Tucked within the Rosewood London, a refined hotel in the city's trendy Holborn neighborhood, guests will find Scarfes Bar. Legendary British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe serves not only as namesake of the bar, but he also played a key role in its development, lending his artistic vision to the popular establishment. Think old-school gentlemen's club with rich mahogany, velvet armchairs, a roaring fireplace and built-in shelves stocked with more than 1,000 vintage books hand-selected by a local antiques dealer. A series of Scarfe's original works can also be admired throughout the bar. Order the Polyjuice Potion, a Harry Potter-inspired rum tipple featuring black cardamom, maple and (of course) salamander blood.
The Bookcase & Barber is one of Durango's most upscale barbershops, where customers can sit back, relax and get a quality cut. But its real charm lies just beyond its manicured facade. Drop the passphrase ("Who is Hemingway?") to be led behind the revolving bookcase and transported to the glory days of Prohibition—a world shrouded in mystery, secrecy and some damn good cocktails. Mixologists make most of their ingredients from scratch, including their selection of bitters and grenadines, for a truly handcrafted experience. Stop by for a trim or hot shave, and the first drink is on them—but chances are you'll stay for a second.
Upon entering this dimly lit bar, patrons will immediately be taken aback by the sheer volume of literary works. More than 3,000 books of various genres are stacked from floor to ceiling throughout the intimate, laid-back space. At Library Lounge These (pronounced teh-zeh), most bartenders are not fluent English speakers, but they're more than happy to present you with a basket of fresh fruits, herbs and other sundry ingredients. Simply indicate your preferred cocktail's characters, and they'll enthusiastically create a customized masterpiece. It's a unique experience that feels very different from the city's other traditional bars and izakayas.
Photo: Famous Last Words
There's a lot to love about this award-winning bar in Toronto's Junction neighborhood. Pull up a chair to the Scrabble-tiled bar, grab a bite or sip on one of its 50 cocktails inspired by literary classics—although, guests are also welcome to order craft beer, cider and wine by the glass. Bookish locals and tourists alike love this establishment for its monthly events, such as hands-on cocktail classes led by seasoned bartenders, and monthly book club meetings and silent reading parties, where bibliophiles can enjoy their favorite romance, mystery or horror novel with a cocktail in hand. The theme comes full circle and will have you instantly plotting your return for the sequel.
Transport yourself to the world of Moby-Dick or Robinson Crusoe aboard the Viking Star cruise ship, as you sail through far-flung destinations such as the Mediterranean or off the coast of Barcelona. Constructed in 2015, this small luxury cruise liner is part of Viking Ocean Cruise's renowned fleet and features one of the most beautiful bars on the high seas. The two-deck observatory is ideal for sightseeing and offers a comfortable hybrid between a cocktail lounge and library, teeming with maritime artifacts. Unwind at the circular bar as a live pianist plays classic tunes or snag a spot on the deck to soak up the sun and fresh sea breeze.
Ian Centrone is a native New Yorker and freelance writer always on the hunt for his next adventure. Follow his travels on Instagram at @iancentrone.
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