6 August 2021
In some ways, Next Door, the newest lounge in Camana Bay, represents Agua's return to its roots.
Before moving to Camana Bay in 2018, Agua's previous location was not only known for its restaurant, but also for its popular lounge area — one of the key places where Grand Cayman's craft cocktail culture began. Although Agua still serves some of the best crafted cocktails on Grand Cayman at its Camana Bay location, its bar area is not a lounge, so the atmosphere is different. Next Door, which is located adjacent to Agua, changes that.
Walter Fajette, one of Agua's owners, says Next Door allows the Agua team to provide a true, interactive lounge space like it had at the previous location.
"When you have a lounge, there's always something going on," he says. "A lot of people have mentioned that they miss that."
Co-owner Cristiano Vincentini says that Next Door is more than just a lounge because it has distinct indoor and outdoor spaces.
"It really has two souls, two identities," he says, noting the inside is like a dimly lit 1930s speakeasy and the outside is bright with European lounge furniture.
The commonality between the two spaces is the quality of the cocktails.
"We have always tried to bring quality to the cocktail scene and Next Door is a premium cocktail lounge," Vincentini says. "Just as we are really picky about the selection of food ingredients we use at Agua, this approach translates to the cocktails at Next Door."
Operations Manager Wayne Epple says several of the supporting ingredients used in Next Door's cocktails — like syrups, kombucha and infusions — are made in-house, and local fruits are used when seasonally available.
The house-made kombucha also highlights Next Door's embracing of one of the biggest trends in modern craft cocktail techniques — that of using every fruit part possible to promote the sustainability of the craft.
"With a pineapple, for example, we use the skins to make kombucha, the pulp to make juice and syrups and salt rims," says Epple.
The environmentally friendly approach at Next Door extends beyond its cocktails to its wine list — including the wines offered by the glass — where most of its selections are certified either biodynamic, organic or sustainable.
While Agua remains the main place for a full dinner, Next Door also offers food that can be best described as elegant bar bites, which include items suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Fajette sees Next Door as a place for couples or individuals to start their evening or end their evening.
"It's a place to go after dinner or a date," he says, adding that he also sees Next Door's outdoor space as a perfect place to go after Sunday brunch at Agua.
This article originally appeared in the August 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for four years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 17 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for the Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. Alan is passionate about food and wine and he loves to write about both those subjects. He is also the leader of Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Chapter. One of Alan’s favourite ways to relax is to catch a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!