Food & Drink

Where to Drink in Palm Springs This Summer

Published On 07/22/2016 Published On 07/22/2016
Bootlegger Tiki
Bootlegger Tiki
The Amigo Room | Courtesy of the Ace Hotel

The Amigo Room

Palm Springs

Despite an influx of worthwhile new drinking spots popping up in Palm Springs in recent years, The Ace Hotel's cozy onsite bar – with black brick walls, half-moon booths, and a stately bear watching over the place – remains a hot spot. On any given evening you might find DJ sets, live band performances, karaoke sessions, visiting comics, or their always-packed trivia night, as well as a hip crowd downing fresh cocktails and craft brews. The bar also recently launched a daily happy hour menu from 3pm to 6pm, which includes pints of Modelo for $4, a margarita for $7, or a three-rye flight for $15, along with discounted small plates.

Courtesy of Seymour's

Seymour’s

Palm Springs

Once you’ve walked through the door, it can be hard to leave this comfy new back-room bar attached to the popular Mr. Lyons steakhouse on the south end of town. The feel is part loungey living room, part speakeasy, and part retro bar with some cool vintage pieces and old-timey art on display (like the dozens of Vanity Fair Spy prints that cover the walls -- leftover relics from when the place was the renowned prime rib restaurant Lyons English Grille). There's also an adjacent outdoor patio and bocce court you'll want to use in the winter, when temps finally cooperate. The cocktail menu is divided into two sections: Classic (think Vieux Carres and Old Fashioneds) and the innovative House section, which includes the standout fresh daiquiri and a gin-and-Chardonnay-based French 75: house-carbonated, bottled, and served on the rocks. (Heads-up -- they're closed 7/25-8/31 for vacation.)

Bootlegger Tiki

Bootlegger Tiki

Palm Springs

This small but mighty tiki bar that's not-so-coincidentally housed in the original Don the Beachcomber building is an uptown fan favorite with kitschy Polynesian décor (you can't miss the puffer fish light fixtures and topless art) and attention-to-detail drinks often garnished with orchids, herbs, and umbrellas. Try Bootlegger's version of a piña colada, concocted with the addition of allspice and green chartreuse, or the gin-based Northwest mixed with lime, celery bitters, and rosemary. And if you have a hankering for a midnight mojito, stop in for the daily happy hour that runs from 12am to 2am every night... and 4pm to 6pm for early birds.

Bar | Dre Naylor Photography

Bar

Palm Springs

This mural-painted spot on the main drag has an excellent cocktail menu (including a smattering of beer cocktails), a lineup of craft beers by the bottle and can, and a super-extensive offering of whiskey and scotch. On weekends, they open up the expansive backyard where you can play ping-pong, corn hole, and bocce or just hang at some picnic tables while drinking. Look for reggae-folk duo Mikey Reyes Acoustic Movement to start performing every other week and collaborating with a rotating lineup of other local musicians this summer.

Courtesy of El Jefe

El Jefe

Palm Springs

With one of the best tequila lineups around, this dark cantina-style restaurant off the lobby of the Saguaro is always a solid stop for a taco and margarita (if you want to upgrade from the basic Cantina version, try one with jalapeño-infused tequila) or one of several smoky mezcal cocktails. There's a daily drink happy hour every day from 3pm to 6pm, but the best deal takes place on the always-crowded Taco Tuesday, when many of the tacos are just $2 or $3 and the house margarita price dips to $5.  

Hunters

Palm Springs

A night of bar-hopping on Arenas Rd -- home to many of Palm Springs' most popular gay bars, including this one -- nearly always includes a stop at this legendary multi-room bar and dance club that's been operating for more than 20 years (and now also has an outpost in Fort Lauderdale). In addition to lots of DJs and a nine-hour-long happy hour, there's a hefty lineup of weekly events including underwear contests, karaoke, lip-sync battles, drag shows, and retro-themed T-Dances every Saturday afternoon.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

Thousand Palms

It'll be worth your while to find this laid-back brewery tucked inside an industrial park. Its wood-paneled tap room with a stainless steel bar and barrels stacked along the walls usually has an offering of more than 20 brews on draft and a handful of bottles and makes it easy to try a bunch of varieties thanks to $8 flights and single 4oz tasters for a couple of bucks (along with full pours and growler fills too). CVB, which been brewing for about three years, sources fruit from nearby farms for some of its beers (the Belgian-style Desert Swarm uses local kumquats) and there are several labels you can only get at the tap room. Look for a monthly food truck-and-music night as well as cask tapping on the last Friday of every month.

Melvyn's | Courtesy of the Ingleside Inn

Melvyn's

Palm Springs

No Palm Springs visit is complete without a trip to this beloved piano bar at the old-school Ingleside Inn. Though the crowd still skews older (like senior-citizens-and-the-elderly older, making for the best people watching ever), these days there's also a weekend mix of younger patrons along with occasional Palm Springs summer staple group: the bachelorette party. The gregarious piano players take requests and their range is vast -- you might very well hear a few Sinatra classics and "Mambo No. 5" within moments of each other -- which is why the tiny dance floor is usually full. And, in case you were wondering, the guy in all those framed photos standing next to celebs like Cher and Arnold Schwarzenegger is owner Mel Haber, who often keeps an eye on the scene from the bar.  

Neil's Lounge

Indio

The karaoke situation at this Western-themed bar is no joke. The place puts on hosted karaoke every single night of the year (with bonus afternoon session on Wednesdays and Sundays too). The crowd is made up mainly locals, who come for reasonably priced drinks, to watch whatever game is on before karaoke kicks off, and grab some good BBQ. But come April, the place gets packed with festival-goers thanks to its short-Uber-ride proximity from the Coachella polo field.

The Hood Bar & Pizza

Palm Desert

It's a dive bar. It's a music venue. It's a pizza place. It's the site of intense Wii Bowling tournaments and beer pong competitions with cash prizes. Yes, this unassuming spot in Palm Desert that attracts hordes of 20- and 30-somethings does it all. Other than some pretty killer drink specials (like $1 PBRs and Rolling Rocks on Mondays), it's perhaps best known for the wide range of bands, which range from punkers to funkers, that hit its stage every week.

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1. The Amigo Room 701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Located inside Palm Spring's Southwest-inspired Ace Hotel, The Amigo Room's got a cozy, familial feel like the rest of the hotel with its black brick walls, circular leather booths, and a stuffed bear that watches over mingling patrons from behind the bar. The 21-tap draft beer lineup consists entirely of craft beers from around the state and country, and inventive cocktails like the vodka-based Desert Facial with pineapple, mint, and cucumber are a potent refresher from the SoCal heat. Every night of the week, game board nights, DJ sets, karaoke sessions and the like always ensure a good time for both hotel guests and the general public.

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2. Seymour's 233 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

For something that exists in the back room of Palm Spring's beloved Mr. Lyons steakhouse, Seymour's is highly underrated. This yet to be widely discovered spot is part speakeasy, part lounge, part cocktail bar that's just as cozy as it is vintage -- the small space is brown and black leather and worn wood from floor to ceiling, and it's ornamented by relics and knickknacks from when Mr. Lyons was still Lyons English Grille. The cocktail menu's got a section for both of your drinking moods: one side for classics like martinis and old fashions, and another for house specialties with creative concoctions like the gin and chardonnay mix called the French 75.

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3. Bootlegger Tiki 1101 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

This modernized space where the historic Don the Beachcomber once rested brings a modernized take on the restaurant's tiki vibe and carefree, beach-y attitude. The bar in the back, lined with red neon lights and tiki lamps, serves up rum every which way in funky, tropical-themed glasses like the Pod Thai and the flaming Jasper's Jamaican, while the front room and patio offer drinks for the wine and beer drinkers.

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4. Bar 340 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

This... well, bar offers up a lot more than its apt name suggests. Although the bar has a fully loaded menu of classic and specialty cocktails, a whiskey selection that seems only possible in dreams, and a decent number of craft beers on tap, the backyard is really the headlining act at this Palm Springs pick. Open only on the weekends, it entertains the masses with live music, a ping-pong table, bocce and cornhole. When all the fun and games work up an appetite, typical bar bites and fresh homemade pizzas (both thin crust and Chicago-style) will be there.

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5. El Jefe 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

The wildly colorful and vivid Sagauro Hotel hosts this dark, suave cantina -- helmed by Iron Chef Jose Garces -- where, upon arrival, you'll be met face-to-face with an impressive tequila stock, spanning the entire back wall of the place. Weekly taco deals allow you upscale short rib, fish, and carnitas tacos without hotel prices, and daily happy hours let you drink margarita after margarita (go with a hibiscus if you're doing as the Romans do) without cringing at your bill come the end of the night. .

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6. Hunter's Palm Springs 302 E Arenas Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262

This gay nightclub's decades worth of experiences makes the historically popular Hunters a must-visit on your next Palm Springs bar crawl down Arenas. Themed parties, big-name DJ sets, contests, and drag shows keep both rooms perpetually packed, and the longest happy hour in the Valley (that's a whole nine -- nine -- hours) will get you something strong for a mere couple of bucks -- just enough to get you out of your shell and onto the lively dance floor.

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7. Coachella Valley Brewing Company 30640 Gunther St, Thousand Palms, CA 92276

This brewery shouldn't be associated with the music festival of the same name -- these guys aren't putting out nearly the same vibe. All about California's desert agriculture and laid-back attitude, Coachella Valley uses local citrus, herbs, honey, and spices with sustainable techniques to brew potent yet affordable beers like the Desert Swarm honey wit beer, the Momentous double IPA, and the crowd-favorite Kölschella, a German-style ale. They're all available on tap with a slew of seasonal and on-off brews in the industrial, wood-paneled taproom.

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8. Melvyn's 200 W Ramon Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264

If a classic Palm Springs experience paired with top-quality steaks, is what you’re after, the Rat Pack fave Melvyn's is right up your alley. This old-school spot, complete with chandeliers and white tablecloths, does table-side preps on dishes like Steak Diane, and the attached bar, which is essentially a piano pickup bar for septuagenarians, is one of the all-time best people-watching experiences you can have, anywhere.

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9. Neil's Lounge 80956 US Highway 111, Indio, CA 92201

Neil's Lounge is, more than any place in Palm Springs, the epitome of a local dive bar. It's well-worn wood tables and bars, neon lighting, and minimal signage ooze normalcy and familiarity, which is probably why the bartenders seem to know most of the customers here -- they do, from years they ended their nights out with the same round of karaoke or the same sports fans showing up to watch game after game. And that's just at night -- during the day the kitchen cranks out bar food like steaks, ribs, and wings for an equally repetitious crowd.

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10. The Hood Bar & Pizza 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Don't let the floral shrubs covering the front of this Palm Desert spot fool you -- this place is for heavy music and heavy drinkers. The always-stacked event schedule at this local dive mostly consists of underground punk and hard rock acts, but there's other stuff to be seen, too, like video game tournaments and the occasional stand-up comedy gig. New York-style pizza dominates the menu, but there's also a handful of bar favorites like wings and mozzarella sticks (not to mention a large selection of cheap domestic drafts).