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Snapshot

28 Nov 2016
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After we created the Facebook event page for the Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Championship, a well-meaning friend commented: "I'm confused. Non-Alcoholic? Why bother?" Here's why: There are many, many people who do not drink alcohol—for a variety of reasons. Yet all of those people still go into bars and restaurants with friends who do imbibe—and their drink choices are often severely limited, to soda, juice, coffee, tea and perhaps a really bad nonalcoholic beer. It does not have to be this way: Non-drinkers deserve tasty cocktails, too—and it's indeed possible to create cocktail-style drinks without alcohol. This point was illustrated masterfully on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Gelson's in Rancho Mirage, during the Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Championship, a production of the Independent's Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week. While a couple of contestants dropped out at the last minute due to work commitments, the two contestants—Kevin Carlow of Seymour's/Mr Lyons (and, it should be noted,…
19 Nov 2016
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Five of the Coachella Valley's top bartenders met Thursday night, Nov. 17, at the Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms Hotel to battle for the first Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Championship. The event was one of the highlights of the Coachella Valley Independent's first Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week, which ends tonight (Saturday, Nov. 19). One week before the event, the five contestants met at the Purple Palm for a draw to determine the order in which they would compete, and which of the five sponsor liquors they would use. The sponsor—Pacific Wine and Spirits of California—is donating $500 to each of Cocktail Week's charity beneficiaries: The LGBT Community Center of the Desert's Community Food Bank, and the Desert AIDS Project's Food Pantry. Fernando Gonzalez of Cuistot Restaurant (using Nolet's Silver Dry Gin), Kevin Helvie of Chill Bar Palm Springs and Scorpion Room (using Crown Royal Vanilla), Sherman Chan…
20 Apr 2016
Hotels, resorts and other venues have been offering up all sorts of music and entertainment to keep the Coachella crowds rocking since they began rolling into the valley last week. As the party continues through Sunday, April 24 (with Stagecoach to follow), the Ace Hotel and Swim Club is offering some truly unique musical experiences as part of its eighth-annual Desert Gold event. “We like to work with a lot of programming partners for this week,” said Ace Hotel cultural engineer David Knight. “Creative partnerships and collaborations for this event include the David Lynch Foundation, and all of the mini-programs we have happening during the week. “(This coming) weekend, on Saturday the 23rd, we’ll have Nancy Whang from LCD Soundsystem doing a show and playing on the Moog 55 system that we have upstairs in the Clubhouse. And on Sunday the 24th, we The Gaslamp Killer and Daedalus.” You can…
21 Mar 2016
The second and final week of Coachella Valley’s prestigious BNP Paribas Open typically delivers sharp tennis play and competitive drama as sports media and fans around the world focus on the on-court action. This year, that unfortunately was not the case. As Sunday’s first match began, hopes ran high that top-ranked Serena Williams would reclaim the championship she last captured in 2001. But a curiously subdued and somber Williams offered little resistance to No. 8 Victoria Azarenka’s determined if less-than-dominating performance. With 33 unforced errors, Williams squandered a multitude of break-point opportunities throughout both sets. Even so, she did manage a short-lived comeback in the second set before succumbing to now second-time BNP Paribas champion Azarenka in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. That set the scene for heavily favored and top-ranked Novak Djokovic to take on No. 12 Milos Raonic of Canada. Despite plenty of Canadians in the stands to offer…
15 Mar 2016
As the 2016 edition of the BNP Paribas Open got under way last week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, two topics dominated the conversations of players, the media and fans alike: Maria Sharapova’s recent alleged doping infraction (leading to her absence) and the return of Venus Williams after a 15 year boycott of the tournament where she enjoyed some of her earliest career triumphs. Two-time defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic told the media he was sympathetic regarding Sharapova’s situation. “I know that she has always been very responsible and aware toward herself, toward the sport—very disciplined, very … hard working, hard-working ethics, and (she) loves what she does. “I thought she was very courageous, and it was very human, brave of her, to go out and take the responsibility and say what has happened. She did admit that she made a mistake with her team. But certainly if there…
10 Mar 2016
Wednesday, March 9, was a beautiful day in many ways at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. At 9 a.m., under brilliant blue skies, long-estranged Women’s Tennis Association champion Venus Williams made her first official appearance at the tournament since 2001. She took to Practice Court 1 to begin her preparations for her first match, which will take place on Friday, March 11. Before only a dozen onlookers—only members of the media and security guards—Venus worked on her game. She seemed anxious and a bit surly; while casting surreptitious gazes at the few strangers present, she maintained a serious expression. At 10 a.m., as her workout entered its second hour, the gates to the grounds opened up for fans—and a crowd of spectators quickly formed around her court. She worked out in brief spurts, taking frequent breaks to rest in the shade, talk on her phone or grab sustenance from a…
05 Jan 2016
The annual Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Awards Gala provides a cadre of A-list film actors and directors with oddly titled awards for their trophy cases—along with a low-stress, fun night in Palm Springs, the “home away from L.A.” for many celebrities. This year’s honorees at the Saturday, Jan. 2, gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center included Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Bryan Cranston, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Alicia Vikander, Rooney Mara and Tom McCarthy. The 11-day festival proudly presents a broad gamut of films within nearly every genre, produced both here and abroad; some of these films receive little or no viewership in the commercial marketplace otherwise. In contrast, the celebrity cast of honorees and presenters—Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet and Ridley Scott were among the latter this year—as usual included a host of attention-grabbing nominees for the rapidly approaching…
14 Dec 2015
I moved to the Coachella Valley some four years ago from Los Angeles, where I had worked in the media and entertainment industries for roughly 30 years. “Jaded” was my middle name. Not long after my wife, Linda, and I took up residence in Palm Desert, we were invited to a "desert drink the night away" party where I first met Mike Taylor. He regaled all listeners with stories of his “salad days,” as he would say, bartending for many of the celebrities who roamed the Palm Springs-to-Rancho Mirage range back in the ’70s and ’80s. To say that Mike is “an original” would be an understatement—and his storytelling skills have been honed to a glistening point over his years behind the bar. In this video, longtime area bartender to the stars Mike Taylor recants some of his favorite tales of serving drinks to, and hanging around with, Ol' Blue…

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