Foodies, wine connoisseurs and those who appreciate a well-crafted cocktail will certainly not have to sacrifice such indulgences when in the Cayman Islands.
Dubbed ‘The Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’ for good reason, Cayman is home to a thriving restaurant industry that covers everything from casual cuisine to award-winning fine-dining establishments. Burger joints and kebab shops are just the thing for a quick lunch or late-night snack, while a dressier night out could take diners to the likes of the legendary Wharf restaurant overlooking the sea or The Falls Steakhouse.
Grand Old House, a stunning plantation house built in 1908, has an extensive wine collection with a large wooden deck by the water’s edge, and Blue by Eric Ripert – located in The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – is the celebrity chef’s only restaurant outside his three-Michelin-starred Le Bernadin in New York. In fact, some of the Le Bernadin dishes can be found on the Blue menu.
Local restaurants are well-versed when it comes to dietary restrictions or allergies, and many are able to cater to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free requests.
Thanks to a melting pot of cultures living here, international dishes are easy to discover. Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Jamaican, Italian, Greek and Mediterranean favourites are just some of the stops on one’s global tasting tour. There are also speciality purveyors of fine meats and cheeses, caviar and seafood.
All this bounty is more than evident at Cayman Cookout, held every January at The Ritz-Carlton. Celebrity chefs such as Eric Ripert, Jose Andres and Emeril Lagasse mingle with guests over four days of events that include the Barefoot Beach BBQ, Rum & Robusto, and the Bon Vivant Cookoff Brunch. Demonstrations are hosted by masters of their craft, Champagne parties sparkle under the stars, and unique experiences, such as a private jet getaway – complete with food and wine tasting – are on the menu.
When it comes to cocktails at island venues, expect to sip upon delectable libations created by expert mixologists. The annual World Class Bartender Cayman Islands Competition is always a fierce one, as there are many talented participants vying for the crown. Most bars offer top-shelf brands, mingled with a slew of fresh ingredients and infusions, presented in hand-picked glassware with appropriate garnishes. Each concoction is crafted with love… even down to the ice cubes.
Of course, there are laid back beach bars where you can just pop open a cold one while watching the sunset, or an Irish pub with Guinness on tap, but whatever your choice of tipple, it can be found here.
Speaking of quality tipples, wine lovers never fail to be dazzled by the selection imported by local merchants. Argentina, California, France, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and other wine-producing regions are all well represented, with vintage Champagnes and rare bottles made quite accessible, thanks to Cayman’s affluent customer base creating demand.
Luxury cognacs, rums, and whiskies are also kept in stock, for those who favour amber liquids.