The Story Behind The Trident’s World Famous Tequila Sunrise

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It was June 7, 1972, and Mick Jagger wanted a margarita. Trident bartender Bobby Lozoff talked him into a Tequila Sunrise instead, a drink that Lozoff and fellow bartender Billy Rice had concocted for their restaurant in Sausalito.

As Lozoff told National Geographic Assignment in 2012, “I built him one and they started sucking them up. After that they took them all across the country.” That drink, one shot of tequila, one shot of orange juice and a dash of grenadine, became the “shot heard around the world.” Keith Richards dubbed the ’72 Stones our the “Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise Tour.” That widely publicized tour and its massively popular mascot drink begat the eponymous 1973 song by the Eagles, which later begat the 1988 eponymous movie starring Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kurt Russell. In between everyone from “The Club” canned cocktails, to Jose Cuervo tequila, has gotten in on the act.

The Tequila Sunrise is a cultural phenomenon. Harley Davidson motorcycles even includes “tequila sunrise” as an official color. In addition, there are orangey-pink tequila sunrise candles, tequila sunrise lip glosses and tequila sunrise nail polish. Today the Tequila Sunrise can be found in every major cocktail guide and on menus from New York to Paris, from Buenos Aires to Tokyo. Anywhere the Stones went, so did the Tequila Sunrise. The layered multicolored concoction is ubiquitous wherever cocktails are sold and it all started there, on that day, at the Trident Restaurant.

Rick Enos, long time restaurateur and current general manager of the Trident, loves a good story, and this one he felt should be shared. He asked around and found the right person at the Marin History Museum to create a historical marker to commemorate the origin of this beloved cocktail, on the 51st (Covid interfered with the 50th) anniversary of that Rolling Stones party. He also, along with owner Bob Freeman created a fund to bring back a beloved Sausalito Seal landmark that was swept off it’s mount during one of the atmospheric rivers of 2023. For every Tequlia Sunrise cocktail ordered, the Trident will contribute $3 to the Sausalito Foundation to restore the statue.  

Jeff Burkhart, author/columnist, and former contributor to National Geographic Assignment

When I first contacted Mark Lomas (Trident website historian and host) I had been all over the world during the previous six months on cocktail history assignments: Paris, London, Yamazaki Japan, West Overton Pennsylvania and even Kentucky. So, it was somewhat ironic that the most interesting, and perhaps most far reaching story that I have done so far, turned out to be the one from in my own backyard less than two miles from where I still bartend. It was my pleasure and privilege to write Bobby Lozoff’s original story about the Rolling Stones’ party and their introduction to the Tequila Sunrise and to then contribute in my own small way to the overall zeitgeist surrounding it. I am honored to be a part of the plaque dedication.

Mark Lomas, host/creator Trident Restaurant historical website, and former bartender/waiter at the original Trident/Horizons

In 2006 I created a nostalgia website and launched By 2010 the website had over a million views. In and around 2010 I received an inquiry from Jeff Burkhart who was then associated with National Geographic about my post claiming the Tequila Sunrise was invented at the Trident by Billy Rice and Bobby Lozoff. Jeff and I met at the Trident where the initial interview took place. A year later Keith Richards’ autobiography came out and Jeff had a second source to confirm my story, and as they say, the rest is history. The story exploded. The drink’s origin and connection to the Rolling Stones was picked up by other media outlets including, The Daily Beast and the Huffington Post. Cuervo Tequila ran ads regularly on ESPN touting their connection to the Rolling Stones and their tour in 1972. Cuervo Tequila even created an internet ad about the Tequila Sunrise and the private party that took place at the Trident for the Rolling Stones that features both me and Bobby. I’m glad to see Billy and Bobby finally getting their due and would like to thank Jeff Burkhart, the Trident, the Rolling Stones, and the Marin History Museum for memorializing this moment in time.

Jerry Pompili, former concert promoter and Bill Graham associate who arranged for that Rolling Stones party at the Trident (he can also be heard introducing Peter Frampton on the multi-platinum 1976 live album Frampton Comes Alive.”)

The Rolling Stones party at the Trident took place between the two June shows that the Stones did at Winterland in 1972. Bill thought a party was a good idea on their day off. I went to do the advance at the Trident and make sure that everything was working and looking good. Frank Weber, the owner, got a work release from the Marin County Jail after his conviction for marijuana possession. They gave him an exemption for not having to go back to the jail at night so he could attend the party. So as everyone was setting up, I heard the Stones’ cars arriving in the parking lot and having worked with them the previous year in the South of France I knew that the best thing for them to see would be everyone scurrying around as they entered instead of the usual, where people stood around and gawked at them. If that happened, there would be a good chance that they would just turn around and not come in. So, I went over to all the staff on one side of the room and had them move all the salt and pepper shakers over to the other side of the room. Then I went to the other side of the room and had the staff over there move all the sugar containers to the other side of the room. As the Stones entered, all they saw was all the staff scurrying back-and-forth around the room. There was a big smile on Mick’s face. After that, it was just a great party! 

Tune into a recent interview with Jerry on the Barfly Podcast

Mary Niblok, former Sausalito Food Company bartender and former girlfriend of Billy Rice

I heard many a braindead story about the Trident. But it was Sausalito in the sun in the 1970s. Two grown men going by Bobby and Billy, I never understood that, but they did. And everyone knew them. If anyone ever called him Bill, he assumed they were after him for money. Those two had some wild times and they sure made a lot of money. At first, I didn’t believe it [the Rolling Stones story], but there it is, it is true. We had a framed menu in the house, front and back with that almost illegible artwork. And Billy talked about the party all the time. My boss had brought him [Billy] to dinner at my house and the world for me just stopped. We avoided each other with a passion for a long time, but then we just gave it up. We were together longer apart than we were together. But those were the times.

[Billy Rice passed away in 1997 from cancer].

Marcie Miller, Marin Historian, Marin History Museum

As a historian, my focus has always been Marin in the 1870s. When asked to record the story of the Tequila Sunrise, I was curious to find myself in the 1970s. The ’70s in Marin were truly a history making era. The Marin History Museum is pleased to be a part of preserving Marin history with the plaque dedication honoring the creation of the original Tequila Sunrise on the location of the Trident Restaurant.