Creative fare, craft cocktails, thoughtful interior design — those are all parts of the whole that make for a happening nightlife spot.

It’s also what helped The Library Bar & Bites nab the title of Best Nightlife in Fairbanks as voiced by the 2020 Readers’ Choice awards. Following The Library’s first-place honor, Regal Goldstream & IMAX took second with Goldie’s AK taking third place for nightlife.

The Library opened in downtown Fairbanks at 603 Lacey St. in November 2019 and quickly stood out among the city’s food and drink scene. It found its niche by offering something no other restaurant or bar in Fairbanks offered: creative craft cocktails and a menu of inventive items.

A sampling of small plates might include roasted sweet potato wedges, roasted shishito peppers, cheese and charcuterie boards, or a selection of flatbreads.

“We kind of pride ourselves on being cool, quaint, not the normal establishment. A lot of people like to come here and get their night started and move on elsewhere, whether it’s down the street to Goldie’s or Salty’s or the Taphouse or the Mine,” said general manager Larry Lowery, referencing other downtown spots. “So we like kind of being either that starting or ending point for everybody when they do decide to go out.”

Like all restaurants and nightspots in Alaska, The Library took a hit in March when the state shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since reopening, they picked up where they left off, playing off the pop culture phenomenon of Taco Tuesday by offering new takes on tacos, utilizing fresh items from local farms for their ever-changing menu, and serving fresh Alaska seafood like shellfish and halibut.

“Fresh seafood comes in on Fridays, it’s always fresh Alaska oysters and clams, and the preparation differs,” Lowery said. “We’ve done chorizo clams in a spicy, rustic tomato broth with some dipping bread. It was fantastic. We’ve done fresh halibut and Alaska spot shrimp Provencal — that was delicious. Whitney Kenney, our executive chef, she’s keeping things fresh and exciting.”

During the shutdown, Lowery and his team revamped their food and beverage menu, including adding Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic distilled spirit, which he’s using for customers who prefer not to consume alcohol but still want a fun drink.

And for guests who like a good cocktail, that’s something else the bar staff does well. The Library quickly became known for its literary-themed drinks, including such items as One Flew Over The Cosmo’s Nest, Absinthe Shrugged, The Rye In The Catcher or Tequila Mockingbird, among other catchy names.

“I want to thank everyone for continuing to support us,” Lowery said. “We’re definitely happy to be back open, and we’re doing everything within our powers to maintain both a safe and sanitized environment for our employees and the fine folks of Fairbanks, so come on down.”

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.

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