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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.
A few months back David Ganapoler posted an article from the Marin Independent Journal on Facebook regarding the closing of the Trident. The article was written by Mark Whittington, and here are some excerpts:
“SAUSALITO – The Trident was a symbol of the 70’s that had a special magic. It was happening! The Trident was a hang out for rock stars, with Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan giving impromptu concerts. Hollywood high brows and local hipsters rubbed elbows there with drug dealers and Hell’s Angels. The carefully chosen waitresses turned heads. Frank Werber opened the Trident in 1961 (the third version of the Trident officially closed in 1981. We’re onto the fourth version presently 2014) patterning it after the jazz super clubs of the East Coast.
Werber discovered a folk group in Menlo Park, turned them into the Kingston Trio, and managed their rise to success. The Trident was one of the groups real estate investments used to shelter the groups money. Werber also managed to survive several controversial marijuana arrests beating all but one conviction. The Marin Judge ruled that Werber’s use of pot for religious purposes wasn’t constitutionally protected. The Trident’s special feeling spilled over to the employees, who had a family type relationship.”
ABOUT A YEAR AGO Mark Lomas, a former bartender who runs the Trident Restaurant website, and I had lunch. We sat in the main dining room of the Trident in Sausalito and swapped bar stories. I had once worked at the briefly reopened Ondine, which was above the original Trident.
Owned by the Kingston Trio, the Trident was way ahead of its time. From 1966 to the mid- 1970s it was the place to be in the Bay Area. Famed for its beautiful waitresses and musical pedigree, it also featured such innovations as sashimi, a fresh juice bar and an espresso bar.
After numerous stories about rock ‘n’ rollers, waitresses, Robin Williams (once a busboy at the Trident), Lomas mentioned that the tequila sunrise had been invented there.
Now, I was reasonably sure that the tequila sunrise had been invented long before that, but I tucked away that information along with the phone number of the bartender who supposedly did that inventing.
From my research, I learned that:
• The Arizona Biltmore hotel claims that bartender Gene Sulit invented the tequila sunrise there in the late 1930s, consisting of tequila, lime juice, soda and crème de cassis.
• The recipe most people are familiar with; tequila orange juice and grenadine appeared for the very first time in the 1974 version of Mr. Boston’s Bartender’s Guide.
Drink origins are always a little murky. Take the martini, for instance. The town of Martinez claims that it was invented there in 1874. In fact it put up a historical landmark to “certify” the event. It doesn’t seem to matter that the drink invented there was called the Martinez Special, or that it included bitters, as well as a different kind of gin and a totally different kind of vermouth. There it sits, certified in stone: “Birthplace of the Martini.”
Eventually I called the so-called inventor of the tequila sunrise. Bobby Lazoff, 63, splits his time between computer IT work and teaching tutorials while living in Hawaii. But back in 1969 he was a fresh-faced 20-year-old looking for work in Sausalito. “I did about two or three days as a dishwasher,” he said. “Then I was a busboy and when I got old enough I became a bartender.” He claimed to have taken the bartending very seriously. “The Trident was a rock ‘n’ roll haven and tequila was the ‘in’ drink,” he said. So he and another bartender, Billy Rice, started experimenting. “Anything made with gin or vodka we started making with tequila,” he said. “A couple of them didn’t turn out too well.” One drink that did turn out well was a resurrected tequila sunrise. “We built it in a chimney glass; a shot of tequila with one hand, a shot of sweet and sour with the other hand, the soda gun, then orange juice, float crème de cassis on top, grenadine if you wanted, and that was it, the tequila sunrise.” Eventually, the bartenders simplified the recipe to just tequila, orange juice and grenadine.
“We had a Rolling Stones party (the kickoff of the media frenzy that was their 1972 tour) one Monday night when we were usually closed,” Lazoff said. “The owner called me in and put me behind the bar. We had a select menu, a couple of the prettier waitresses and that was the party. Bill Graham brought in about 35 people, and you know the place holds several hundred. Mick came up to the bar and asked for a margarita, I asked him if he had ever tried a tequila sunrise, he said no, I built him one and they started sucking them up. After that they took them all across the country.”
OK, I thought, all I had to do was get the Rolling Stones to verify that and we could reasonably assume that Lazoff might be indeed be responsible for the most recognizable incarnation of the tequila sunrise.
Rather unlikely. As a result, the story sat until I picked up Keith Richards’ book “Life,” published this past October. Chapter nine, sentence No. 1: “The ’72 tour was known by other names — the cocaine and tequila sunrise tour … ” I could not believe my eyes.
I realized that I should probably be a little more trusting, and that the Trident might want to look into historical markers.
Jeff Burkhart is an author, regular contributor to National Geographic Assignment and an award-winning bartender at a Marin restaurant. Contact him at email@example.com. The National Geographic Article by Jeff, Not Just Another Tequila Sunrise, can be found elsewhere on this site. Similar, but completely different. Or, as they say, “The Same Difference?”
For all the people that remember and wondered how the Trident was robbed in the early 70s Tanya Chalupa and William G. Palmini, Jr. have written the definitive book on the subject. All the urban legends that surfaced around this event (that it was an inside job, and all kinds of other theories) can be put to rest.
The backdrop for this story is the Trident Restaurant, Sausalito, and the Bay Area in the 1970’s. The book details how a rookie Sausalito detective, Bill Palmini, Jr. discovered the link to the West Coast Mafia as a result of his investigations into the Trident robbery.
Breaking up the “Best in the West” Gang is a true story. In this gripping crime expose’, Bill Palmini – a rookie detective, hopes to take down the West Coast Mafia by gaining the confidence of notorious mob operative William Flody Ettelman. Set against a backdrop of social turmoil this book immerses readers in the sub culture of free love, drugs, robbery, and murder, orchestrated by organized crime in locations like the coastal enclave of Sausalito, California. Artist, writers, musicians, and hippies took refuge there. The Trident restaurant was once a drug mecca for Hollywood, the music industry, and the New York hip. At the time it was owned by the Kingston Trio, and their manager Frank Werber, a self proclaimed drug preist. Robin Williams worked there as a bus boy (74,75,&76). The Rolling Stones were regulars, and Janis Joplin had her own table when she dropped by which was frequently. Sally Stamford, the former San Francisco Madame who later became Sausalito’s mayor, was a confident of the famous and infamous. Her relationship to all of this should fascinate those familiar with Sausalito’s wild and untamed waterfront “back in the day!” This book can be found on Amazon.
Trident : How did it all begin?
Bob Shane: We bought the place in 1960. When we took over it was called the Yacht Dock. It was a jazz club. It was a very straight, conventional kind of place. It had a nice big dock so people could tie up and come in. I think we kept the name until around 1966 when we started changing it—painting the ceiling, putting in all the curved railings and woodwork—going for the hippie style. That was done by Frank with the architect, Roger Summers.
Frank closed the place, but we (the Trio) were on the road for most of that time so we didn’t see it taking shape.
When did you guys start playing and how did Frank become your manager?
We started the Trio in ’57, and we were playing at a place called The Cracked Pot in Redwood City. It was like a little beer garden—had a little stage, and Frank Werber came in and liked us. He drew up a contract for us right there on a paper napkin. So we started rehearsing with him, and played a couple of places around the Bay Area, and then he got us booked into the Purple Onion. It was a two week gig, and we ended up staying for sixteen weeks.
So how did you end up owning the Trident?
Well, when we started really making money in the ’60’s we decided we were going to have to have some things to invest in, so we bought the Columbus Towers in San Francisco, and then we bought some property in Mill Valley and San Rafael, and we leased the option for the Trident. Then in ’76 I did a stock trade out—I traded my share of the property we owned including the Trident for the rights to the Kingston Trio name. From that point on everything got great for me but I’m not so sure it did for everybody else.
Tom Dooley was your biggest hit, but Scotch and Soda is perhaps the Trio’s best and the best known. Tell us where that came from. The music has Dave Guard’s name on it but I heard he didn’t write write it. What’s the story?
It was written back in the thirties by an anonomyous musician in Phoenix, and was given to the Seaver family. Tom Seaver, you know, the baseball pitcher, was about nine when Dave (Guard) was dating his older sister at Stanford. We were driving down to LA, and we had dinner with their parents, and afterwards they said, “We’ve got this great song for you guys.” and they gave us the music. And then later, when we weren’t paying attention he put his name on it. It caused a lot of bad feelings later on. But he actually did it in order to give the money to the Seaver family, and they used it to put Tom through college. Of course, he did pretty well for himself later on. And there’s a pretty funny story about Dave. We were on the road and he picked up this chick, and checked into a hotel as Mr and Mrs using his credit card, forgetting that his wife paid the bills. That marriage didn’t last.
The following take on the Trident Waitresses is Published here with permission from Baron Wolman from the pages of “Rags” Intro: The Trident of Sausalito has evolved into a “Freedom of Expression” and a reflection of a differing lifestyle. The key word is Style. It’s not service with a smile that counts anymore, it’s service with Style! The title for this article was The Ladies A La Mode
The Ladies A La Mode by Blair Sabol
Now, and then…
The first SF Yacht Club was at Mission Rock in SF in 1869, moved to this location in 1880 (now the Trident), then to Belvedere in the 1930’s.
The Trident came to be in the mid 1960’s
The San Francisco Yacht Club circa 1880’s – Images & Content Robert Lozoff