Raising the Bar

Loads of atmosphere, specialty drinks, and a niche vibe define the desert’s best bars and clubs

Lisa Willman Arts & Entertainment 0 Comments

Bardot Palm Springs is the latest nightclub to open in the downtown area headquartered at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Photo by Chris Miller/Imagine Imagery


Hipster Cool

For a shady break from the sizzling scene around the Ace Hotel pool, tattooed Angelenos duck into the cavelike Amigo Room to catch eclectic bands. Take off the edge with the vodka-based Desert Facial; www.acehotel.com.

Order an Old Fashioned at Bar, a moody downtown haunt that keeps the urban look as simple as its name; www.barwastaken.com.


Breezy Beach

A seamless, indoor-outdoor open concept at Birba creates a carefree atmosphere in which to sip an elderflower Hello Nancy; www.birbaps.com.

At Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club umbrellas, lounge chairs, and swimming mix well with tall pitchers of poolside mojitos; www.haciendacantina.com.

If Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack could lounge anywhere in Palm Springs, there’s no doubt you’d find them crooning at the Starlite Lounge, the perfect spot for enjoying a classic martini; www.psriviera.com.


Tropical Fun

Uptown at the intimate Bootlegger Tiki, spiky blowfish lanterns cast a retro glow on flaming, port-based Gooney Goo Goo drinks in an intimate setting with island-vibe; www.bootleggertiki.com.

Pu pu platters and rum drinks reign on the SHAG-designed menu at Tonga Hut, where throwback surfer décor spills out onto the second-floor balcony; www.tongahut.com.

Club-style nightlife goes South Beach chic during Wednesday Latin Nights at Copa Palm Springs. Try the fruity Hunky Monkey; www.coparoomps.com.


photo by arianna menon

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace.


Music Haven

Rollicking live music and a Wild West spirit prevail at Pappy & Harriet’s, a legendary high desert hangout known to host the best intimate performances by huge bands. A Shady Lady, served in a mason jar, is a must; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Deep in Coachella fest territory, Date Shed is a righteous concert destination for local and touring acts. Black walls, a disco ball, and low couches frame up this stage-centric hot spot. Cool down a cranberry vodka; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Rock and roll memoribilia  at Hard Rock Hotel sets the scene. Sip on a #SimonSays Sangria to channel your inner rock star. www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

In the heart of Indian Wells, lounge acts take to the stage nearly every night at Vicky’s of Santa Fe. Stay refreshed with the the Lemon Cake (RumChata and limoncello); www.vickysofsantafe.com.

Beyond the diner staples, Woody’s Burgers is beloved for its live music lineup. Seven nights a week, you can pull up a barstool and enjoy live jazz and blues with a Woody’s Cherry Lemonade, made with vodka, lemonade, triple sec, grenadine, and lime juice; www.woodysburgersps.com.


Photo courtesy of jackalope ranch

Customers congregate around the firepit at Jackalope Ranch.


Party Time

The party starts with margarita-fueled karaoke sessions on Thursdays at the unassuming Tack Room Tavern and continues with live bands on Fridays and Saturdays. Try the polo-inspired specialties: Empire Derby and Polo Club Fizz; 760-347-9985.

Jackalope Ranch brims with a slight country twang and an environment for every get-together. For a “wow” drink, request a Paloma. It’s with tequila, lime, and Squirt grapefruit soda; www.thejackaloperanch.com.

Shake it on the dance floor of Bardot Palm Springs, the Hard Rock Hotel’s new hopping nightclub. Down a couple of shots at their bar; www.hrhpalmsprings.com/bardot.


photo courtesy of babe's bar-b-que & brewhouse

Babe's Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage sports an array of award-winning craft beers.


Brew Ha Ha

Slabs of baby back ribs aren’t the only draw at Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage. An array of award-winning craft beers recently earned Babe’s top honors as “Brewery of the Year”; www.babesbbque.com.

Local flavors get the spotlight at Coachella Valley Brewing Company, known for its “farm-to-glass” approach. Dip into the ever-updated beer list with the award-winning Monumentous IPA; www.cvbco.com.

At La Quinta Brewing Company, try the Koffi Porter, a true local’s beer made with coffee beans roasted at the desert’s own Koffi roasting house; www.laquintabrewing.com.

Nights out in downtown Palm Springs often lead to Village Pub. Two floors offer all you could need – plus, you can raise a glass of the bar signature brew: The Village Idiot; www.new.palmspringsvillagepub.com.


photo courtesy of the purple room restaurant & stage

The Purple Room Restaurant & Stage in Palm Springs.


Supper Clubs

A night at Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lounge whisks you away to a time where you might expect the Rat Pack to show up and order martinis. Do the same; www.inglesideinn.com.

Supper club spirit is alive at The Purple Room Restaurant & Stage, a legendary hangout that continues to entertain with live performances ranging from celebrity impersonators to lounge acts and dancing. Opt for the signature Purple Orchid; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

East meets west at The New York Company, where the bar and lounge channel a New York state of mind with black-and-white photos of the Big Apple and a baby grand piano for weekend entertainment. Relax with a California wine; www.thenycps.com.

A fun destination outside of downtown proper, The Tropicale draws a crowd with its hustle and bustle of live entertainment, jazz, piano, and surprise guest singers. The must-try on the stunning patio? The Tropicale Coconut Martini; www.thetropicale.com

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