By Amanda Keely-Thurman
There’s nothing like a good old fashioned summer road trip. Picture this: you’re cruising through the American West as the open road stretches endlessly ahead. It almost feels like you’ve landed on another planet as the pavement cuts through the dusty and cactus-sprinkled landscape and the giant jagged red mountains jut from the ground skyward.
The possibilities of adventure seem infinite and you feel the thrill of the Wild West. You’re rockin’ your Ray-Bans and the radio is blasting classic rock. Indeed—you were born to be wild. But all that driving and rebellious freedom can make a person mighty thirsty.
Along with quirky roadside attractions, like an ancient crater or rusty automobile graveyard, nothing screams “ROAD TRIP!” like a unique watering hole that reflects the local history and culture of a town awaiting your exploration. You may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but you’re never too far away from a road trip bar.
Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Palace
Pappy & Harriet’s opened its doors in 1982 but the history goes much deeper than its inaugural year. Located just outside of Joshua Tree National Park is a little place called Pioneertown, which was founded by Hollywood investors in the 1940s looking for a location to film good old westerns.
1870s facades were built and the little town has been the location to over 50 movies and television shows since the 1940s and 1950s. Pappy & Harriet’s just so happens to be standing in what was once the cantina façade in many of these films.
Today, not only is Pappy & Harriet’s a local favorite, it has attracted world travelers and musicians while becoming a legendary spot for great mesquite barbeque, live music and dancing. In fact, musicians like Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Leon Russell, Vampire Weekend and Sean Lennon have performed at Pappy & Harriet’s.
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
A little bit of whimsy always makes for a good time on a road trip. Ironically, Bitter & Twisted is a stylish yet quirky cocktail lounge located in what was once the prohibition headquarters in the historic Luhrs Building in downtown Phoenix.
Every detail from the purity of the ice to quirky glassware to playful cocktail names is on point at Bitter & Twisted, earning it a number of awards and accolades over the years.
For instance, Enter The Dragon combines IPA with an Aperol Spritz adding in touches of lemon, cinnamon and grapefruit, served in a metal cup posing as an IPA can. However, the drink menu becomes crazier depending how daring your feeling. Using fresh juices and a variety of herbs and bitters, Bitter & Twisted aims to add a little imagination in every craft cocktail, making a simple drink feel like a new adventure. What’s a road trip without exploration and unexpected finds?
Float Café & Bar
Housed in the lobby of the ground-breaking, interactive and immersive House of Eternal Return at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico is the equally imaginative Float Café & Bar.
During the day, this café only sells coffee, teas and shakes, but after 4:00 p.m. Float comes alive with crazy cocktails from another dimension. The bar features a rotating menu of innovative and experimental cocktails, including a full list of Absinthe cocktails.
In addition to local spirits, fresh juices and unique ingredients like butterfly pea flower extract, these wild cocktails feature everything from lavender foam to Lucky Charm marshmallows and cotton candy clouds. Nothing is what is seems at Float, making for a truly unique experience on the road.