Somer Lovin’: Somerset Bar’s Wondrous Library Is a Field Trip Around the Globe

A collection of global finds and a functioning library make this OTR lounge one for the books.

It’s a hefty task to pick just one space to talk about at a place like Somerset. There’s the vaulted greenhouse of a bar that consumes the heart of the space with its otherworldliness. You could talk about the towering double doors, commissioned from India, that mark the bar’s outdoor entrance; or the tram car seating area nestled in a garden that overflows with over 500 live plants. But it’s the library lounge that’s the true unsung hero of the OTR hotspot. “The lounge is really intended to be a counterpoint to the rest of Somerset,” says James Fisher, the bar’s COO and cofounder. “[It’s] certainly cozier and more mature, but also a step down in terms of energy level.” Outfitted with its own bar, the lounge is home to a curated collection of pieces from Fisher’s lifetime of traveling. And the whole “library” thing isn’t just for clout. People can and do borrow from the shelves. “At first, we put a lot of books in there that specifically added more detail to many of the items, histories, or cultural references at Somerset,” Fisher says. But since word has gotten out, the lounge has evolved past its status as a mere sitting room for sipping drinks—today, you’ll find a space that’s all about global community. The drinks are just the cherry on top.

Photograph by Devyn Glista

1. Skeleton Crew 

The artwork above the fireplace, Sōma no furu-dairi, is a woodblock triptych created by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, one of the last great masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style, which blossomed in the 18th century.

2. Keep It Rolling

The white rollers on the library shelves are actually latex rolling pins that were cut into patterns and rolled onto the wet concrete walls of the men’s restroom.

3. World Travelers

The global relics aren’t just on the shelves. Take a look at the back wall for the Día de los Muertos costumes, purchased from an antique store in Mexico, and to the floor for a footstool given to the owner in Africa.

4. Change of Seasons

Somerset is typically a warm weather bar, but the working fireplace in the lounge draws crowds in the winter. The room, like every other space here, changes with the seasons.

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