There are stories and then there are stories about stories. This one, starts at the Palm Springs Racquet Club!
Of course times have changed and so has the landscape but this small part of the story is so good it’s worth a throwback to 1934, a time when this was the party spot for much of Hollywood.
Tex Gray manned the bar and good times flowed. Some even say it was here that the Bloody Mary was first created. I couldn’t confirm this but it’s a story that is certainly told and retold in these parts.
Cocktail Culture, it’s a time, a taste, a memory!
The Coachella Valley has a rich liquid history. With a beginning and middle fueled by a drink or two. On any given night you can walk down nostalgia lane.
At Ingleside Inn, grab a spot near the piano man and a gin martini. They’ve made them here since 1925. Not much has changed over the years and that’s what keeps bringing folks back in for another round. They obviously know how to do it right.
It’s a red carpet roll-out for a real classic, in this re-imagined desert haunt. The Old Fashioned. This whisky cocktail can be controversial in its creation, and in its consumption. Apparently it’s one of the most common messed up drinks. You’ll get a good one at Mr. Lyons, so sip slow and steady and make sure to ask the bartender about the restaurant’s history, they’ve been making Old Fashioned’s here since 1945.
Spirits, sugar, water, bitters – that defines a cocktail.
Cocktail Culture that’s much harder to define, especially in the desert where not all libations, through the years, were necessarily good ones.
Michael Beckman, chef and owner of Workshop Kitchen and Truss and Twine.
“Palm springs has always been a drinking town for sure but it’s gone from vodka martinis like all day long to being a bit more thoughtful to what we put in a glass.”
Beckman and Truss bar manager Dave Castillo, have a heavy hand in bringing the classic cocktail resurgence to the Coachella Valley. For them it’s more than a trade it’s a craft.
Beckman- “It’s rediscovering old classics, looking to authentic recipes and then looking at those spirits that were used back in the day and then to make our best educated guess as to how those spirits actually tasted. They’re stirred, they are double strained, we use beautiful glassware, everything is jiggered. There’s a level of precision. It’s liquid sophistication. Their menu, broken down into eras, golden age, prohibition, Dark Ages and tiki.
Tiki, is key to desert cocktail culture. Bootlegger Tiki a tiny jewel, celebrates these iconic cocktails in a big way. They do so with flowing rum and fire in the historic Don the Beachcomber building circa 1953. That tropical drink culture a liquid muse for everything Polynesian. A flavor savored still today.
And with that we say cheers to a bygone era, one that set the tone for doing it up so to speak. Shaken stirred, boozy bright every drink a careful balance of flavor and history.