You already know that Palm Springs is home to a burgeoning restaurant scene, but there's more good news for visitors: There are more cool places to get a good cocktail these days than there has been in decades. From dives to hipster hangouts to gorgeous hotel bars, here are 13 places to grab a drink next time you're in town.Read More
Where to Get a Drink in Palm Springs Right Now, December 2014
Here are 13 spots to get your drink on in Palm Springs.
1. Bootlegger Tiki
Palm Springs, CA 92262
This intimate new tiki bar that opened in the same space as the legendary 1950s hot spot Don the Beachcomber hasn't skimped on a single detail with its bamboo ceiling, kitschy Polynesian art, blowfish light fixtures and, most important, standout hand-crafted drinks served up in super fun glassware. Try the Pod Thai with rum, Thai basil, and a housemade cardamom-lemongrass syrup or one of the best Mai Tais around. Not in the mood for a cocktail? The adjacent Ernest Coffee (owned by the same group) turns into a wine bar after dark.
2. Starlite Lounge at the Riviera Palm Springs
For a dose of glam, pop into this lobby bar at the glitzy Riviera resort with its crystal chandeliers, low-slung seating, and backlit walls. Most nights, the wildly talented Martin Ross impresses on a white grand piano while belting out everything from Sinatra to Stevie Wonder. The cocktail menu is good, but that $6 glass of Veuve offered between 6 and 7 every night is your best bet.
A cool bar with great cocktails outside of a hotel was an anomaly until Donovan Funkey (whose family owns Italian joint Giuseppe's and BBQ eatery Smoke Tree BBQ) opened this watering hole popular with young locals nearly two years ago. The drinks skew classic with offerings like an Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, Pisco Sour, and an extensive selection of Whiskeys. There's also a solid menu of small plates and really good pizza. The first Monday of the month is ArtBar, a mixer for local creative types (and anyone else who wants to join in) showcasing a different local artist's work each month.
Though this Palm Springs institution lost resident piano man Nino Fontana a couple years back, it hasn't lost its nightly crowd. His replacement, Ron Greenip, may not wear the tux and can be a bit hokey at times, but he’s got a talent for crooning both old standards and new(er) tunes. Melvyn's may be most popular with the local 60-and-over set, but weekends find plenty of out-of-towners and even – gasp! – twenty and thirtysomethings crowding the tiny dance floor and downing giant martinis. Keep an eye out for legendary owner Mel Haber, who still works the room most nights.
5. Toucans Tiki Lounge
This North Palm Springs hot spot bills itself as a local gay bar with "no attitude, just good drinks and good people" but that's being modest. The tiki-themed space (that just got a makeover by beloved local interior designer Christopher Kennedy) also has a never-ending weekly lineup of DJs and dance parties, culminating on Sundays with the very popular and entertaining drag revue Tommi Rose and The Playgirls.
6. El Jefe
The Saguaro Hotel’s wood-paneled taco and tequila spot doesn't make deciding on your drink of choice easy thanks to more than 100 types of tequila and mescal on offer (including Gran Patron Burdeos for $100 a shot, if you want to splurge) and a good variety of variety of Mexican and craft beers. It's gloriously casual, with communal high-tops and Regal Beagle-style tables for two or four. Taco Tuesday is a great deal with $5 margaritas and several tacos priced at $2 or $3 each.
7. Workshop Kitchen And Bar
Workshop's dark and industrial space is anchored by a mega-communal table for dining and a small back bar, featuring only small-batch liquors used for intricate cocktails, including rotating seasonal offerings. Stick with the familiar – a French 75 or Ward 8, maybe – or go for one of the bartenders' originals like the Palm Springer, a blend of bitters, vodka, fresh pineapple, and housemade grenadine.
8. The Tropicale
There's something about a cocktail on the palm-dotted patio that makes you feel like you're on vacation (and offerings like lemongrass basil mojitos and pineapple jalapeno margaritas certainly don't hurt). An inside seat at the chic "Coral Seas" lounge is often just as good, especially on Tuesday and Thursday nights when a live jazz trio sets up. Next door, the newer Copa Room club has a monthly lineup of musicians and comedians.
9. The Amigo Room at Ace Hotel & Swim Club
This dark, ‘70s-esque bar at the Ace Hotel is still oozing with hipness six years in with rotating DJs, live bands coming through, cans of PBR, and fresh-squeezed cocktails (that are disappointingly served in plastic cups due to the bar's proximity to the pool). If you have to choose one night to stop in, go on a Monday when Palm Springs' favorite drag queen, Bella da Ball, hosts a very professional trivia night starting at 9 p.m.
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10. Purple Room
The guys behind the Uptown Design District's ever-popular orange-splashed eatery, Trio, took over this formerly fraying lounge off the lobby of a timeshare hotel last year and transformed it into a retro-feeling supper club. The cocktails get fun Rat Pack-themed names like the Dean Martini and Chairman of the Board, but bartender execution can be inconsistent. Still, the draw here is top-notch entertainment including husband-and-wife duo the Gand Band every Friday and Saturday night and the popular Judy Show, featuring local musician Michael Holmes belting out tunes while impersonating Judy Garland and a few other old female stars.
11. Lulu California Bistro
The bi-level space is stunning, the downtown location is perfect, and patrons perennially pack the place (the never-ending happy hour at the bar may have something to do with that). Though the food isn't anything amazing, Lulu is still a must-stop for a well-priced cocktail and prime people-watching.
12. Purple Palm
For a break from bustling bars, this small poolside spot within the posh Colony Palms Hotel is perfect for a quiet drink surrounded by mountain views. The cocktail menu gives classic drinks a twist – the Old Fashioned gets a rosemary infusion, for example – while other options are downright wild, including the Purple Gang, made with vodka, lemon, muddled grapes, and a Pinot Noir float.
13. Village Pub
For the opposite of quiet and posh, grab a beer and a shot at this indoor-outdoor downtown mainstay that feels like a divey college bar where there's always a game on TV or a cover band on stage. Drinks are cheap and the place stays crowded well past midnight (which isn't always the case around here).