After a sizzling day in the desert sun, you'll probably need a cold beverage or two. (And ideally somewhere with indoor plumbing.) Whether you're looking for a martini in an old-school piano bar or a cheap beer at a nearby dive, here's a handy list of great bars to get your post-show drink on throughout the Valley. Need food too? Read this. — Lizbeth ScordoRead More
Where to Drink in the Desert During Coachella 2013
1. Tackroom Tavern
There are plenty of cheap beers, fried food, and big-screen TVs here, and it couldn’t be any closer to the festival considering it’s located within the polo club. Done.
2. 12th Floor Lounge
Perched atop the 12th floor of the Fantasy Springs Casino, this loungey bar is going for that Vegas feel, and, for Indio, does a pretty good job of getting kinda close. The glass-heavy space gives visitors sweeping views of the valley skyline, there’s a breezy outdoor patio, and jazz some nights.
3. Neil's Lounge
If the bands of Coachella have inspired you, the divey Neil’s Lounge offers Karaoke seven nights a week. But be warned: The regulars take their singing pretty seriously here ... and it can get crowded.
4. The Wine Bar
If you're going to be listening to live music on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, we have a feeling we know where you'll be, and you probably didn't come to the desert for wine tasting. But just in case, there's no cover vocalists on weekends and two-hour wine tasting sessions on Saturday afternoons for $15. The place also has a big old selection of wines by the glass and an attached retail shop for stocking up your rental house.
5. Red Barn
Palm Desert, CA 92260
It’s unclear which came first: The actual red barn or the name Red Barn, but either way you’ll find a good dive bar with an array of entertainment, including pool tables, shuffleboard, darts, and live music. And if you haven’t booked a place yet, the bar rents out its upstairs apartment so you don’t have to go far for a drink.
6. El Jefe
If you can’t find the tequila you’re looking for here, well, you’re being unreasonable. The Saguaro Hotel’s lobby-adjacent taco spot – that chef Jose Garces says he created to look like a Western frontier bar – offers more than 100 types of tequila and mescal (including Gran Patron Burdeos for $100 a shot, if you want to splurge) along with a bunch of Mexican beers. Forget mango, the fresh fruit-infused margaritas come with watermelon, blood orange, or charred pineapple. And tacos and drinks are discounted on, you guessed it, Tuesday.
7. The Amigo Room
This dark, ‘70s-esque bar at the Ace Hotel hasn’t changed a bit since it opened five years ago. Same laid-back vibe, live music a few evenings a week, and same fesh-squeezed drinks with locally inspired monikers including the Desert Facial and Coachella Hipster. Though the Ace's fabled "Sissy Bingo" on Monday nights is in flux since the recent passing of its beloved host, ex-Broadway star Linda Gerard, 9 p.m. trivia is still a hoot, hosted by enthusiastic drag queen Bella da Ball.
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8. Melyvn's Restaurant at The Ingleside Inn
This Palm Springs institution isn't quite the same since it lost resident piano man Nino Fontana. And though his replacement, Ron Greenip, may not wear the tux and can be a bit hokey at times, he’s got a talent for belting out both old standards and new(er) tunes and the dancefloor is just as crowded as ever. Five years ago you’d be the only person in the joint under 60, and now you’ll have to share the space with bachelorette parties and gawking groups in town from L.A., but there’s still something about those Sinatra tunes, icy martinis, and owner Mel Haber making the rounds that makes it the perfect place for a nightcap.
9. Citron @ Viceroy Palm Springs
Designer Kelly Wearstler helped kick off the Hollywood Regency trend in Palm Springs a decade ago thanks to the black-white-and-lemon-yellow color scheme and mirror accents splashed throughout the hotel. Years before now-trendy hotels like the Colony Palms, Parker, Ace, and Saguaro opened, the Viceroy was the only available choice for the hip crowd and its onsite bar and eatery Citron is still worth a stop for downing a freshly muddled cocktail in a chic setting.
10. Lulu California Bistro
It's never not crowded in here and for good reason: There's happy hour at the bar and surrounding high-top tables all day (and night) long. The food isn't great, but it's worth stopping in for a cheap cocktail, admiring the Miami-meets-modernist décor in the giant space with sky-high ceilings, and people watching across the patio.
11. Clinic Bar and Lounge
If you're staying in Palm Springs (or better yet the Hard Rock right next door) and looking to drink, like, really drink, then this is your place. With happy hour until 8 every night, 2-for-1 specials on Monday and Tuesday, and an offering of $7 shots any time, it's a good thing you can stumble back to your hotel.
12. The Copa Room
The Miami-esque eatery and happy hour hot spot, Tropicale, opened its swanky sister location right next door late last year. A nod to Palm Springs' old-school clubs of the '50s and '60s, the drinks-only lounge doles out fruit-infused Technicolor cocktails including pineapple-mint mojitos and basil-lime gimlets. The live performance lineup rotates between solo singers, bands, and comedians. (Amazingly Judy Tenuta performed a few months back.) Afterwards, a DJ takes the stage and is required to incorporate "Copa Cabana" somewhere into his mix before the night ends.
Good watering holes with decent food and well-priced, thoughtfully made cocktails smack in the middle of Palm Springs’ main drag aren’t as prevalent as you'd think. And that’s partly why Bar has become a fast success. Joe Funkey – whose parents own a duo of nearby pizza-and-pasta joints – is mixing the drinks on any given night, including classics like the Aviation and Manhattan along with newfangled concoctions. A simple food menu of plates like fries with garlic aioli and devils on horseback are worth a try. If you need a break from the amped-up DJ music, try the front patio. The place has done pretty well since it opened less than two years ago and now plans to expand into nearby space soon.
14. Purple Palm
The classiness is kind of contagious at the poolside bar within the posh Colony Palms Hotel. And after three days at Coachella, you'll want to head here after the sun goes behind the mountain, sip a couple of fancy cocktails (maybe a Rye Manhattan with a Luxardo cherry or a Veuve bellini), gaze at the stunning scenery, and wonder whatever possessed you to try camping this year.
15. Toucans Tiki Lounge
It may be considered one of the area’s most legendary gay bars, but whether you’re gay or straight, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time (and good drinks) at this tiki-themed spot with weekly drag revues on Sunday nights, and plenty of dancing thanks to rotating DJs. Sadly, the weekly bingo sessions run by a Judge Judy impersonator are no more.