Continuing my tiki tour through incomparable Palm Springs we stopped in next at Bootlegger Tiki. Bootlegger calls itself a speakeasy Tiki bar, presumably because it stands at the back half of it’s building which also operates a coffee and wine bar during the day. Unlike say, Three Dots and Dash or Pacific Seas however, it doesn’t really take any special detours or know how to get to. In fact, seeing as the side entrance to bootleggers still showcases the oversized tiki torches once belonging to the sites predecessor: Don the Beachcomber, as well as a couple of large carved Tikis flanking the doorway, it’s hardly inconspicuous.
We arrived later in the evening on a Monday with some friends. Inside it’s a fairly small, and dimly lit spot. As your eyes adjust to the ambient lighting you begin to make out a lot of bamboo and grass on the walls along with some cheeky, if wonderful velvet paintings. There’s really only a few booths and a row of seats at the bar. Fortunately, due to our timing we had no problem getting into a booth and began perusing the menus. Bootlegger Tiki has a really good selection of original drinks to chose from, as well as some classics. This interview from Tiki With Ray of co-owner and mix master Chad Austin gives you a good idea of why I was more interested in the original drinks.
I started off with one called the mammoth tusk which absolutely knocked my socks off. I had set a goal for my tiki tour of choosing just one or two drinks from each location to spare both my wallet and my health, but it was clear pretty early on that bootlegger Tiki was going to challenge me on that. The group I was with each ordered a different selection and were all eager to share a taste. There honestly wasn’t a single one that I would’ve turned away. All in all I think I had three different drinks of my own over the course of the evening so you won’t be surprised when I say my notes got a little hazy at some point. Don’t expect any fancy eats at Bootlegger, but they do offer an intriguing selection of snack foods to help soak up the booze. We shared an order of beef jerkey and sriracha popcorn between us which actually complimented the drinks nicely.
Of course, there were flames!
A good time was surely had by all, and so far, I would definitely have to rank Bootlegger Tiki as among some of the best tiki drinks I’ve had.
The last thing I want to mention before wrapping up this post is another little fun aspect of Palm Springs I was fortunate to witness. In the same way that much of the Mid Century Modern architectural design has been preserved, the taste for the exotic that gave rise to tiki and Polynesian themes in the 40’s – 50’s, is fully encompassed in the Palm Springs aesthetic.
The Bahia, and Kauai, shown here, were a couple of themed apartment buildings I happened upon that presumably don’t hold the same sense of wonder for local residents but I can’t help but lament the decline of these inspirational, whimsical locations. Hopefully we can count on Palm Springs to keep these hidden gems safe for us and future generations to enjoy. Coincidentally, that leads to me to next Palm Springs tiki tour stop: The Reef, Palm Springs. Located in the historic Caliente Tropics Hotel. So check back next time for more on that!