Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bobby Lozoff and the Tequila Sunrise


 

Bobby Lozhoff on KTVU television January 11th, 2016 –  being interviewed for being the creator of the modern day Tequila Sunrise. Post from Jeff Burkhart aka “The Barfly” who writes for a variety of publications including National Geographic.

The Tequila sunrise legend finally gets his due A friend who works in the film business once said, “Being on a film set is just standing around watching other people standing around.” And that is exactly what I was doing.

I had been invited to the shooting of a documentary/commercial being filmed by Jose Cuervo at the legendary Trident restaurant in Sausalito. I was not there at the behest of the Cuervo people, I was there as a guest of the star of the show itself, Bobby Lozoff, former Trident bartender and the legendary inventor of the tequila sunrise. It was the first time in nearly 40 years that Lozoff had set foot back in the Trident. “I walked out of this place on Dec. 14, 1975, and I haven’t touched another bottle since,” he whispered to me. The Trident officially closed that day and Lozoff subsequently moved to Hawaii where he opened the Blue Max, a live music nightclub patterned on his incarnation of the Trident (the Trident was reopened in 2012 by Bob Freeman who also owns the Buena Vista in San Francisco).

I knew Lozoff because I had interviewed him back in 2011, first for my Barfly column in the IJ and then for a feature story I wrote for the National Geographic Assignment blog in 2012. Over the years we have kept in touch, but since he lived in Hawaii and I lived here, we had actually never met in person.
Now we stood in the bar of the rechristened Trident and swapped bartender stories while an army of film people swarmed around us. Lozoff is something of a celebrity these days. In the bar and cocktail world it is rare to actually have the inventor of a world-famous cocktail still around, or even identifiable, for that matter. Cocktails come and go, but the really famous tipples are all 75 to 100 years old. Even the Moscow mule, which is all the rage right now, traces its heritage back to the 1940s.  One of the relative newcomers is the tequila sunrise. The name was coined in the 1930s but the drink, as we know it — tequila, orange juice and grenadine — was invented in the early 1970s by Lozoff at the Trident. It’s almost like being able to ask Ian Fleming himself exactly what he meant by “shaken, not stirred.” Regardless of what you think of the drink, there is no denying its far-reaching fame. Movies and rock songs have made use of it. On a recent trip to Paris, I saw the drink on at least two cocktail menus. That kind of fame does not go unnoticed.

Jose Cuervo tequila has used the drink twice to promote its product — once in the 1970s and again recently in a television ad using the Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour as a backdrop. It was Lozoff himself who introduced Cuervo to the Stones at the Trident in 1972.  The first time around Cuervo neglected to mention Lozoff. This time around the company appears to be more than making up for it.
“We’re almost ready for you,” a pretty film assistant said, interrupting Lozoff as he pointed out the espresso bar that he helped build more than 40 years ago.
“They want me to make 10 or so fancy cocktails,” he tells me. “Why don’t you do it?” The Cuervo people want none of that. “I’m just an old hippie bartender,” he said, declining. “In my day it was, ‘You’re not ready [to order]?’ Next!” he said pointing to an invisible patron.

It might have been 40 years ago, but Lozoff is still a bartender at heart. He’ll be the first to admit that he doesn’t particularly care for grenadine; he calls it a name unfitting for a newspaper. But as any real bartender will tell you, what the customer wants is what the customer gets, and back then grenadine ruled the day. Lozoff prefers a sunrise with crème de cassis, a black currant liqueur, but he acknowledges that the drink is prettier with grenadine. He also adds that “making it with both” is optimum. The new Trident agrees, featuring that version on its menu. As for Cuervo and the Stones’ preferences, we will simply have to wait and see.

The last I saw of Lozoff, assistants were powdering his face for a close-up. Forty years later he’s finally getting his due. Better late than never.
Jeff Burkhart is the author of “20 Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender” as well as an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant.

Trident Waitress Flashback

Late sixties? Early seventies? A 32 second clip of some Trident waitresses on their way to work after parking in the lot across the street from the Trident. My apologies for the poor quality. Originally a 16mm version shot to Betamax then digitalized. But thanks to Rob Lawson – Terry the bartenders brother for the clip.

Donna

in 1968 I went to work for the Kingston Trio at the Trident when it was a jazz club…it was a happening scene..Mills Davis..Sergo Mendes and all the Jazz greats..I was a cocktail waitress..a bad coctails waitress…this was pre LSD and Tune in ..Turn on..Drop out…when that happened The Trio and Frank Werber decided to close it down and hip it up…the finished Restaurant was amazing..I was the first hired because I had previously worked there…Many beautiful women were hired…Frank of course oversaw everything but we had a manager who’s name I can’t remember now..a gentle older man that I adored…It was the “IT” place..I would be serving  people likeNeil Young as he wrote lyrics on a napkin…dealing with David Crosby and his over the top fun personality…if there was a celebrity in San Francisco they would cross the bridge to have the Trident experience…many good times..many friends..Helen stands and of course Gretchen and her homemade cookies…but Frank was my very very dear friend…loved him and he was always there for me…there were some bad times of course…cooks who were grouchy…and bartenders that were so demanding..I wasn’t a very good waitress but because I was well liked I kept my job..even during the times I needed to leave to go to Maui and other places ..I would always have a job waiting for me when I returned…it is also where Bill Cosby decided it was me that he knew he wanted and it is a horrible memory of what he did to me..I couldn’t tell anyone because he was so beloved and no one would have believed me…there were many great times with big stars with big egos and some with very big hearts..Lily Tomlin comes to mind….and of course the night we closed for the Rolling Stones..What an honor to be chosen to be there that night..with all their bad boy reputation they were total gentlemen..I left at the end of 1972 with fond memories and gratitude for my time there. Donna Motsinger  email: binkybaby78@gmail.com

Donna and her son Jeff “back in the days” when she was working at the Trident

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