Bar/Restaurant: The Purple Palm
Area: The Movie Colony Neighborhood Of Palm Springs
Typa Joint: Renovated Old School
Signature Cocktail: The Purple Gang
Tucked away in the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, in lush gardens adjacent to the pool, is the Puple Palm restaurant. The hotel itself is also tucked away; if you’re driving down Indian Canyon you will miss it if you aren’t looking for it. There is no adjacent parking lot, no large signs to direct you. There is only a small valet sign, then a couple of steps into the hotel.
The restaurant is on the opposite side of the pool, and I arrived after dark. I caught a glimpse of private Moroccan style desert tents, but I was too busy looking for stepping stones and trip hazards to really take it all in. I am a sucker for ambience, but the path was a little too dark for my taste.
The restaurant’s name references the Purple Gang, a Prohibition-era mob syndicate out of Detroit, because gang member Al Wertheimer built the hotel in the 1930s. At that time it was known as the Colonial House. The speakeasy/brothel in the basement under the present location of the bar is used for storage.
The Purple Palm is not as purple as it used to be. I have seen photos of its earlier incarnation, with purple walls and purple chairs. Now, the space has a decidedly Moroccan influence, with French-style style café chairs that give it all a very eclectic and warm feeling.
My friends and I were in attendance on Saturday, December 12, 2015 – Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. The Purple Palm was celebrating with a special Frank Sinatra menu and a jazz singer who channeled Frank and the entire Rat Pack.
The Frank menu was pricey, so I opted for a nice dinner of beet salad and scallops, not particularly memorable but delicious.
I was thrilled to be dining and celebrating Frank’s birthday with Palm Springs local Burt Spivak, an erstwhile hotel owner who knew Frank and many other celebrities. Burt is now 90 years old, drives his own car, enjoys a good martini, tells a great story, and plays tennis several times a week. He and my adopted mom are members of the same tennis club. Meeting and conversing with him is one of the fond memories I will take with me from my winter in Palm Springs.
The Purple Palm takes its cocktails seriously. I was pleased to find a craft cocktail list, which included a drink called The Purple Gang.
I am a girl who loves a theme, so I ordered the drink. Made of vodka, lemon and muddled grapes with a float of Pinot Noir, it was surprisingly delicious.
We had a wonderful time at the Purple Palm, commemorating Frank Sinatra, enjoying good food and drink, and listening to the old standards.