Meet Your Mixologist: Beer, scotch at Trad'r Sam

In a saloon town such as San Francisco, the bartender plays a crucial role. Confessor, friend, sounding board — the man or woman behind the plank sees to it that our needs are met with elegance, grace and often wit. They see humanity at its best and most convivial, but also offer a nod and a welcome to the lonely. But what do they see when they look at us? What are the tricks of their trade? And what lessons have they learned along the way? In this Examiner weekly feature, we talk to some of our local bartenders to find out.

Trad’r Sam

6150 Geary Blvd., San Francisco; (415) 221-0773

Veteran bartender Fred Sor isn’t a man of many words. In fact, this might mark the first time in this column’s history that we’ve been able to run an interview in its entirety. You’d think being a bartender at the notorious Polynesian dive bar Trad’r Sam would fill you to the brim with hilarious, controversial tales. Perhaps words could never express what he’s seen throughout his tenure. This Outer Richmond ode to the island life is about as famous — at least locally — as its uptown cousin, Trader Vic’s. Except here, you can get about three Planter’s Punches for the price you’d pay for one at Vic’s. It can get a little rowdy, so folks looking for the drink experience without the riffraff should hit up this place Monday through Thursday, or before 9 p.m. on the weekends. Heck, it opens at 10 a.m. Brunch anyone?

Where are you from originally? Millbrae.

How long have you worked here? Eight years.

How did you get into bartending? I don’t know if I can tell you the truth. I quit my office job and my brother said, “You like to drink a lot.” So I called the place up and asked if I could work here.

What’s the reason you’ve been here for eight long years? I don’t have any, really. I’m really lazy. I work three days a week.

What are you doing when you aren’t here? I go to bars. 

What time does this place officially open? Officially, it’s 10 a.m. It depends on who’s here, though.

How long has this place been open? Since the late ’30s.

Consistently? Yeah. This place kind of exploded in the last 15 years.

How much alcohol is in a Scorpion Bowl? About three Planter’s Punches.

How many people does it take to finish one? Two to four, but people order them on their own all the time. I’ve seen people do two.

What’s your favorite drink on the menu? Scotch. OK, if you force me to drink one, usually it’ll be a Grasshopper because it has mint chip ice cream.

And what do you typically order, when it’s a drink not decked out with a paper umbrella? I drink beer and scotch.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would be three drinks you couldn’t live without? Johnnie Walker Black, PBR in a can, Miller High Life in a bottle.

What’s the strangest cocktail you’ve ever made? A Fogcutter. It’s got gin and rum and it tastes like black licorice.

If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? Stephen Chow. He’s the “Kung Fu Hustle” guy, and he’s made like 100 other movies before that.

What would you serve him? I’d give him the Red Hibiscus for Red China. It’s a frozen drink with rum, grenadine, gin, Sloe gin and pineapple.

Who is the biggest celebrity you’ve ever served? Adam Jones [Tool] and Kirk Hammett [Metallica]. That was a crazy night. Adam Jones got a Rasta Man, which is the sweetest drink on the menu. Winona Ryder has come in here before, but I didn’t serve her. Sal Castaneda comes in here all the time.

Is the jukebox here any good? If you like Boz Scaggs. The word is “prehistoric.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully owning a bar of my own, or in jail.

How come people get so blitzed when they come to Trad’r Sam? Mostly it’s the sugar, but we do pour heavy.

Featured drink: Planter’s Punch

– One shot of white rum
– Splash of grenadine
– Splash of passion fruit syrup
– 1 oz. lime juice
– 1 oz. lemon juice
– 1 oz. orange juice
– 1 oz. pineapple juice
– Black rum

Fill a pint glass with ice and add white rum through pineapple juice. Shake together, pour into a glass filled with ice and mix with a long-handled spoon. Float black rum on top. Garnish with orange slices and a paper umbrella.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read