Whether you're coming for Coachella or Nochella, the good news is that you'll never be far from a decent cocktail wherever you are in the valley. Here's a helpful roundup of bars, lounges, and live music venues intent on keeping your thirst quenched in and around Palm Springs. And if you're looking for restaurants too, head over here.Read More
17 Places to Drink Cocktails in Palm Springs
Here's where to get a cocktail this year while you're in town for Coachella
This downtown hot spot, popular with young locals, has one of Palm Springs' best whiskey selections with more than 50 offerings, along with classic cocktails (a Ward Eight with a house grenadine) and creative originals (the Naked & Famous consists of Mezcal, Aperol, Yellow Charteuse and lime juice). You could spend all night here, really, thanks to a food menu of pizzas, sandwiches and bar bites like devils on horseback and beer-battered onion rings, not to mention the a comfy backyard that's complete with bocce, corn hole, ping pong, and picnic tables.
2. Tonga Hut
Despite the fact that this outpost of the North Hollywood original is relatively new, it still manages to feel pretty authentic, unpolished and unpretentious in a world where tiki bars are turning trendy. There's real-deal Polynesian art and wood carvings, a kitschy faux fireplace, framed menus from tiki bars of yesteryear, a secret back room you enter through a pay phone, and plenty of other stuff that'll make you want to stroll the space. Look for tiki-themed DJs, the occasional live band (LA's loungey Martini Kings just played here) and, of course, plenty of rum-based drinks. The TIki-tastic is served out of a coconut, while a couple of multi-straw "bowl" drinks can serve up to four at once. Tiki enthusiasts tend to find their way here so don't be surprised if the couple sitting next to you looks like they're out of an old Elvis movie.
3. Dead or Alive
Palm Springs, CA 92264
It's easy to miss this sign-less new bar wedged between a Mexican restaurant and a liquor store on the south end of town, but once you find it, you'll be rewarded with one of the most interesting beer and wine lists in town. Co-owner Christine Soto curates the vino selection, which changes weekly and highlights smaller, lesser-known producers with a bend toward natural wines. Her boyfriend and business partner Anthony Cioffi is in charge of the beer offerings, focusing on obscure craft brews you're welcome to spike with a flavored Pok Pok vinegar. Cioffi, an industrial designer, is also responsible for creating the super-cool glazed ceramic beer mugs made to look like crushed aluminum cans and the uplit, descending bar top that was fabricated in LA. And if you could swear that orb on the wall is changing colors, you're right — it slowly sets for the nine hours the dimly lit bar is open each night.
Though this Palm Springs institution lost resident piano man Nino Fontana several years back, it hasn't lost its nightly crowd. His replacement, Ron Greenip, may not wear the tux, but he’s got a talent for crooning both old standards and new(er) tunes, and of course, taking lots of request. (The room's biggest talent, though, is probably Mikael Healy, who performs Sunday through Wednesday night's.) A couple of years ago you might have been the youngest one in the place if you were under 65, but the cat's been out of the bag for a while and seniors now share the tiny dance floor with bachelorette parties and hipster groups making a pilgrimage from the Parker. Keep an eye out for owner Mel Haber, who still works the room most nights.
5. Bootlegger Tiki
This tiny tiki bar opened in the same space as the legendary 1950s hot spot Don the Beachcomber and has gotten into the retro Polynesian spirit with its bamboo ceiling, velvet paintings of topless island gals, and blowfish light fixtures, but its best known for its standout hand-crafted drinks served up in super fun glassware ... and the hip crowd who sips them nightly. Try the Pod Thai with rum, Thai basil, and a housemade cardamom-lemongrass syrup, or one of the best Mai Tais around. Late-night imbibers are in luck. The place not only stays open until 2.a.m it also kicks off a nightly happy hour at midnight.
6. The Amigo Room
This dark, ‘70s-esque bar at the Ace Hotel is still one of Palm Springs' grooviest-feeling watering holes more than seven years in, with rotating DJs, live bands coming through, cans of PBR, and fresh-squeezed cocktails (try the longstanding refresher The Desert Facial -- vodka and pineapple muddled with mint and cucumber).
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7. Hunter's Palm Springs
The legendary Arenas Road is lined with popular gay bars, but probably none as well-known as Hunter's, which has been operating for nearly two decades and recently got a sleek renovation. The lineup of specials and events is dizzying with multiple happy hours, guest DJs, underwear contests, and karaoke throughout the week, culminating in Hunters' wildly popular T-Dance on Sunday afternoons.
8. La Quinta Brewing Co. Old Town Taproom
La Quinta, CA 92253
The two-and-half-year-old beer maker has launched its second tap room, this one in downtown La Quinta. In addition to its own brews (including a Koffi Porter made from the local roaster's beans), you can find a rotating lineup of other American craft selections along with wine and hard cider. It's also open till midnight on weekends and has expanded its live music lineup to include some Fridays in addition to Thursday nights.
9. Rocco's Electric
This new bar and restaurant in the space that previously housed Spanish tapas spot Tinto at the Saguaro Hotel puts a lot of emphasis on fresh cocktails. And that's underscored by the fact there's a staff chef dedicated in part to concocting the housemade syrups used in the drinks. There's a honey version for the Bee's Knees, orgeat for the Mai Tais and Demerara syrup used in the Rum Old-Fashioned. Beer drinkers can go for the rotating lager, sour, or porter and the bartenders plan to offer some tap cocktails soon. There's also a Mexican-ish menu of sopes, salads, and an array of appetizers. (Currently open Friday through Sunday only.)
Palm Springs, CA 92264
This Polynesian-inspired poolside bar at the brand-new V Hotel is all about tropical cocktails you'd want to sip while lounging in the sun. New York mixologist Shannon Stiggins, whose resume includes Ian Schrager's Edition Hotel, created the menu of drinks that combines liquors and fresh-squeezed juices with more obscure elements. The Wet Dream mixes rum, mezcal, and green chartreuse with lime and guanabana fruit, while the Passion Paradise is made with rum, amaretto, passionfruit and Cachaca, a distilled sugarcane-based spirit. Elixir, which opens April 15 (just in time for a certain music festival) will also offer an Asian-influenced food menu, while the V's onsite restaurant, Solstice, is slated to open this summer.
11. Neil's Lounge
Indio, CA 92201
If the festival music has inspired you and you need a fix behind the mike, there's karaoke at this dark wood-paneled Western-themed bar every single day of the week (sometimes with separate afternoon and evening sessions). You can get BBQ from an onsite purveyor, watch whatever game is on, play pool in the back room, or chat with happy-to-be-there locals at the bar. And if you're around for Stagecoach, stop in for the bar's busiest weekend of the whole year.
12. 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 got a makeover by beloved local interior designer Christopher Kennedy a year or so ago) 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. [Photo: © 2015 Eric Lynch]
13. Tackroom Tavern
Indio, CA 92201
Coachella-goers won't be able to beat the location since this cowboyish bar is right at the Empire Polo Club. There's daily happy hour, live band appearances every weekend, a big outdoor patio and a surprisingly extensive list of wines by the glass, microbrews, and pretty good cocktails. The kitchen turns out daily lunch and dinner along with Sunday brunch when mimosas and Bloody Marys are $5 each.
14. Lulu California Bistro
This Miami-esque bi-level restaurant and lounge is consistently packed for a lot of reasons: It's got a coveted corner location in the middle of downtown; the open-air façade perfect is for people watching; and of course, it boasts its well-known never-ending food-and-drink happy hour in the bar and lounge. For those looking for a midnight snack, the bar just started staying open until 1 a.m. on weekends, when they bring in a DJ and offer a late-night menu.
15. Red Barn
Housed in what's meant to look like an actual red barn, this local's dive will keep you entertained long after Coachella's over with pool tables, shuffleboard, darts, live local bands, and DJs. (And check out the impressive wall mural with its interesting interpretation of classic rock tunes.) If you're up early and looking for a cheap Bloody Mary, the place opens at 8, and if you're staying in the area, they've got a driver and a van happy to take you home if you've had too many.
16. Purple Room
This formerly fraying lounge off the lobby of a timeshare hotel was transformed into a retro-feeling supper club a few years back and recently changed hands when Michael Holmes, a regular performer there, bought the place. Cocktails get fun Rat Pack-themed names like the Dean Martini and The Sammy (somehow, the Liza on the Bathroom Floor doesn't sound as enticing) and there are some Coachella Valley-brewed beers on offer, too. Still, the draw here is top-notch entertainment including jazz bands and vocalists throughout the week and Holmes' popular Judy Show on Sundays, when he belts out tunes while impersonating Judy Garland and a few other old female stars to an always-excited crowd.
17. The Tropicale
There's something about an evening 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. The menu ranges from pizzas to Asian-style salmon to buttermilk fried chicken with a killer happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. nightly and all night on Wednesdays.