Seymour's at Mr. Lyons in Palm Springs is the perfect place to savor a drink and relax.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MOLLY KIMBERLING
I like to go to bars with no more complicated purpose than ordering a well-crafted drink and enjoying it in peace. I don’t go to eat and don’t want to sit next to patrons who are munching their way through anything more complex than mixed peanuts. I like a good music mix, preferably mellow jazz or blues. I don’t want to be assaulted by music. Because I sit at the bar, I appreciate a well-designed bar back with artfully arranged bottles, but not a towering mass or too few so that I’m staring at myself in a mirror. I like smaller, intimate bars with low lighting accented by a few area lights. Although in no way a monk or immune, I don’t go to bars with the intention of hooking up. Likewise, I won’t go to a bar where there’s a chance a bachelorette party will descend, harshing the buzz with their artificial hilarity and rube fashions. I like attentive bartenders who know their trade and don’t think they’re living an episode of Cheers. I don’t go to bars to party. I go to bars to relax and daydream a bit and savor a drink.
This is why Seymour’s at Mr. Lyons consistently heads my list. There’s an atmosphere of calm when you pass through Seymour's velvet curtain. I last visited in May and June. They were both weekend nights, and though Seymour's was full, it was subdued. The bartender, Ryan, and I discussed mezcals. He made me his own concoction of mezcal, his own green apple juice, ancho chile liqueur, and agave syrup with a lime twist. Perfect.
Generally, I avoid the bar/dining room mix, though I recognize that the pure drinking establishment is a rare beast these days. Still, the bar/dining room can work in the right setting, and one of my favorite restaurants to have a quiet drink is Workshop Kitchen + Bar. People go for the dining, but the bar usually has a couple seats open. I used to arrive an hour or so before the restaurant filled and have a sidecar.
Another bar/dining hybrid favorite is The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. The view is unparalleled, and the Manhattan is exquisite.
Tiki bars are sort of their own animal with their pu pu platters, sweet fruity cocktails, and (sometimes irritating) tropical music. But the one that works for me is Bootlegger Tiki. Maybe it’s because the room is tiny, intimate, and dark, or maybe it’s because the mai tais are the most lethal on earth. It might just be that indescribable connection that makes you feel relaxed and at peace, like you’ve walked into a second home.
Best Use of Foam in a Cocktail
Bar Cecil co-owner Jeff Brock’s longtime favorite drink is the margarita at Montecito mainstay Lucky’s steakhouse. It’s a blanco-tequila-based version served up, which he especially loves thanks to its splash of St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur. When the Bar Cecil team created its variation, The Brock, for the restaurant’s opening cocktail menu last year, the crew decided to put that St. Germain to a more innovative use as a frothy foam, made from equal parts egg white, lemon juice, and the liqueur. The concoction is chilled in a whipped cream dispenser and turned into a creamy foam that the bartender layers atop the finished cocktail and serves in one of many different colored ice-cream-sundae-style glasses.
“The St. Germain plays really well with the lime since it’s got a floral note,” says partner and general manager Nate VanDeventer. “And the glass has a huge surface area, so it almost looks like a lemon meringue pie when it comes out.” — Lizbeth Scordo.