I am a sucker for a good tiki bar, and it turns out that Palm Springs has three.
I started my tiki pilgrimage at Bootlegger Tiki – the former Don the Beachcomber, in the design district of the village.
Don the Beachcomber originated in Southern California before World War II. In its heyday there were 16 locations, of which this Palm Springs location was one. Some would argue Don the Beachcomber was the first tiki bar. Here are the original Tiki gods on the roof of the building:
Don the Beachcomber used to occupy the entire building, but there is now a coffee shop in front and a small, four-booth bar in the back.
The drinks are authentic, and the lamp lightshades are blowfish.
I had the Three Dots and a Dash – two types of rum, falernum, dram spice and a few other goodies – which made a tasty beverage.
There’s no food to speak of at Bootlegger, so we were off to The Tonga Hut for dinner and more exotic cocktails.
The Tonga Hut originated in Los Angeles, and this is their second location. They make their Mai Tais the old-fashioned, Trader Vic’s way, which I greatly appreciated. Please, please do no put any juice in a Mai Tai except for lime!
The Huli-Huli chicken was a delicious dinner.
Then we took a tour of the place, complete with memorabilia from long-lost Palm Springs tiki bars, and even a secret room.
The last tiki stop was at Toucan’s Tiki – a gay bar that was the least authentic, but arguably the most fun. There was a drag show that night, and a cute boy behind the bar to mix my cocktail – a Blue Lagoon.