Secret Bars for Chilling Out and Drinking Up in Greater Palm Springs

Raise a glass at these hot new watering holes

By: Jimmy Im

Chill out, drink up

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The drinking history in Greater Palm Springs runs deep. Since the 1920s, visitors have flocked to the oasis to unwind, unplug and live it up—and you can bet there was a cocktail or two in the mix. The Rat Pack famously knocked back martinis, old-school institution Melvyn’s (one of the oldest bars in Palm Springs) is still slinging drinks, and the thriving LGBT community bonded in a string of gay bars. As the area continues to grow as a world-class destination, the drinking scene prospers, and several new spots—from hipster dens to classy speakeasies—will ensure you have the ultimate kiki. Here’s a toast to the best new places that amp up the Greater Palm Springs thriving bar scene.

Counter Reformation

Famed interior designer Jonathan Adler didn’t hold back when he recently renovated the look and feel of the Parker Palm Springs, a luxury resort that attracts A-listers. The hotel screams Hollywood, glam and edgy, and the most notable new addition is Counter Reformation, a tucked-away, hidden wine bar that’s all brass, mirrors and patterned cement tiles. The theme of the 14-seat bar is playful and cheeky (Counter Reformation was a Catholic resurgence in the 16th century), and it fully pays tribute to wine (the bar is literally a wine shrine), featuring relatively affordable, bold wines (3 oz/$6, 6 oz/$11, bottle/$40) to be drunk alone or paired with some rich small plates. If you feel like you’ve overindulged, there’s a wooden confessional to rid all guilt.

Time & Temperature

Considering Time & Temperature is a desert speakeasy bar combined with the fact JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort sprawls 450 acres, you’ll have to search really hard to find this little gem. The speakeasy theme makes it worth the adventure, and it’s not just a bar but a secret restaurant. The whole idea is for visitors to take pleasure in finding Time & Temperature, with the secret space open to hotel guests and visitors every weekend. Like many “secret” restaurants, you can book online (when it’s available later this spring), where you’ll receive instructions on how to find the place with subtle hints along the way. It’s a fun way to dine and have a cocktail!

Moxie

The eclectic and diverse bar scene reigns in Palm Springs. From old-school haunts and speakeasies to snazzy cocktail lounges and trendy supper clubs, the variety of imaginative, unique watering holes is truly next level. But raising the bar (pun intended) is Moxie, opened in January 2017. It’s the first true rooftop bar in Downtown Palm Springs, sporting exciting views of Palm Canyon and the breathtaking backdrop. Rather than going full-on swank, the owners tapped into the friendly, leisurely and retro side of the desert with AstroTurf, life-size Jenga, live music and socially driven, sharable plates. While there are beers on tap, bubbles and wine, opt for a craft cocktail, where innovative libations (like The Palm Canyon) are perfectly paired with the good life.

Truss & Twine

When Workshop Kitchen + Bar opened in 2012, it brought hip, elevated dining to Greater Palm Springs and helped spearhead the progressive restaurant scene. It’s gone on to win James Beard Awards (for design), and has become an authority in craft cocktails, especially with some of the most innovative creations this side of town. So when Workshop Kitchen opens a buzzing new cocktail lounge concept, everyone pays attention. Inside the historic El Paseo building in the Uptown Design District, Truss & Twine feels just like Workshop in design, and regionally inspired, small gourmet plates are served—but it’s all about the libations here. The cocktail program focuses heavily on classic cocktails of yore, broken down by era, like the 1800s, turn of the century and the Prohibition. Considering the restaurant’s imaginative take on New American cuisine proved successful, you can bet there will be significant, modern twists to their drinks.

Draughtsman

You can put a pub in Palm Springs, but Draughtsman puts Palm Springs in the pub. The new beer bar at ARRIVE hotel is bright and cheerful with bold colors, retro-modern furnishing and surrounded by tons of greenery, truly tapping into the oasis’ signature aesthetics. Draughtsman also takes the destination’s vibrant craft beer scene outside the dark bar and into a gorgeous, sun-drenched al-fresco space, complete with fire pits and yard games like corn hole and ring toss. While craft and draft beers is the name of the game, the restaurant also offers a full bar and elevated dining, like a Black Angus beef burger, peanut butter and jelly and short-rib poutine fries. We like to think of it as pub-picnic fare. 

Secret Bars for Chilling Out and Drinking Up in Greater Palm Springs

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