Hot and cool desert drinks

By Tania Moffat

Mai_TaiErnest Gantt Original Mai Tai

  • 1.5 oz. five-year-old Angostura
  • 1.5 oz. Coruba rum
  • 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. Velvet Falernum liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. Combier triple sec
  • 3 drops Cointreau
  • 5 drops Absinthe

If you’re looking for a taste of home while you’re on holidays in Palm Springs, or perhaps a sip, why not visit Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki. This hopping coffee shop and tiki bar has a Winnipeg connection.

Part-owner, Jamie Kowal, was born in Winnipeg and with a number of family members still here, she often returns home to enjoy some good old Manitoba summers at her family’s cottage in Winnipeg Beach which has been in her family for four generations.

It was love at first sight for Jamie on a family holiday in Palm Springs. She was smitten by the desert and as an accomplished photographer she knew she would have no shortage of amazing sites to photograph if she remained here. To support her income she found an apartment complex and renovated it into a successful, boutique hotel, The Amado. Between the hotel and her photography career, shooting the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Justin Timberlake, life was busy enough. But fate still had more in store for her.

After having difficulty one afternoon trying to find a coffee shop to meet her friend, Chris Pardo, they laughingly joked that they should open up their own. Chris, an architect who had recently moved to Palm Springs from Seattle had experience as a developer and restaurateur. Taking their jest to heart, he called Jamie the next day to check out what would become the location of their coffee shop and tiki bar.

An ideal locale

The spot Chris was talking about turned out to be none other than what was once the popular Don the Beachcomber Restaurant, which had originally opened in 1953. Located in the Uptown Design District with no coffee shops for blocks, it was an ideal place.

The history of this spot, combined with some of the restaurant’s original tiki torches that were still in place, spurred the idea to incorporate a speakeasy-style tiki bar into their original coffee shop plans, all paying homage to Don the Beachcomber.


Dirty Chai

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 2 oz. extra spicy organic Chai concentrate
  • 12 oz. milk or milk substitute

Don’s real name was Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt; he was a successful restaurateur and bootlegger back in the day. The coffee shop, Ernest Coffee, named after Gantt, occupies the front 800 square feet of the building while Bootlegger Tiki resides in the back of the building with its own street entrance. The two sister businesses are intimately connected, linked inside via a joint hallway and outside by a shared patio area, allowing customers to socialize in either spot with ease. Jamie and Chris’ idea to incorporate the property’s history into their own story was more than just a clever idea, it has added to their success.

Opening from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day, Ernest Coffee serves Stumptown coffee, a strong, rich coffee with a complex flavour roasted in nearby Los Angeles and offers wine and beer in the afternoon. Then, at 4 p.m. Bootlegger Tiki opens, serving handcrafted cocktails until 2 a.m. A small but satisfying appetizer menu offers mouth-watering items to munch on while you enjoy your visit at either locale.

The pair has done everything first class, from the ultra-hip modern/tropical decor, to the innovative beverages and laid-back atmosphere. They even offer t-shirts and glasses to memorialize your trip.

Jamie was kind enough to share some recipes with our readers to try at home. So enjoy and stop by on your next visit to Palm Springs. Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki, 1101 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Phone 760-318-4154.