The Red Mountain Inn – La Jolla’s Bird Rock Bar

If there was a bar designed for Mac Meda, the infamous Dave Osborn’s Red Mountain Inn would win hands down.  It was named after the screw-top, rot-gut wine, Red Mountain, which was a must if you wanted to get drunk and had little money, because it was $1.50 for a gallon.

With that said, it seemed logical that the Red Mountain Inn became Mac Meda Destruction Co. Official Headquarters!

The bar opened in 1966 at 5525  La Jolla Blvd in Bird Rock. Opening day over 17 kegs of beer was consumed.

The original bartenders were Jack Macpherson, Rick “Ricky Rocket” Johnson, Mike Wilson, Dave Schrader and later Reggie Hasley and Ron “Anchovy” Barca joined to help with the overflow of thirsty and fanatical customers.

You ordered by the pitcher or two. Drinking one beer was unheard of. If you tried to order ONE beer the bartender stared you down.  And chances are you would get eighty-sixed for being a fagot!

Friday and Saturday nights were standing room only. Cigarette smoke would bellow between the crack of the front door, and almost knock you down when opening it. A passerby could get drunk just by looking at the place from across the street.

Red Mountain Inn T-shirt Design

Red Mountain Inn’s T-shirt Design – Just like the rot-gut wine.

Red Mountain had a band that drummed out enough rock to make your ears ring for the next few days. At first, Cookie Taylor was the singer, and leader of the  band (see him in slide-show) and then ran dinner food specials for a while until he become the head cook at Bully’s down the street.

Stories were wild, people that drank there were crazy with one thing in mind, getting shit faced and having a good time. Its customers were all types, bikers (notice the Hell Angels and Iron Horsemen in the photos, before they become hated rivals), surfers, jocks, long hairs, girls, drunks, idiots, dirtbags, and just plain people who wanted to let their hair down.

One night the cops raided the place for underage drinkers. And the ONLY person they took to jail was Jack Wilhelm, who forgot his ID that showed he was 21 at the time. In other words, if you looked 21, or had a ID (regardless of whose picture was on it) that said, you were 21, you were in …

Across the street (or within stumbling/falling down distance) was the Sip n Surf (or Hungry Horse depending on who owned it at the time) that served hard booze. And heading north a few doors was the White Whale, a hippy bar where pot and incense bellowed out as strong as the cigarettes smoke did at the Red Mountain.

Clear-Light acid and Mescaline was passed out like candy.  The Make Love, Not War was exercised to the fullest … even a blind man could get his rocks off there.

Bird Rock was a great spot. Beer, booze, pot, and end the evening by getting laid – and all within 50 yards. And farther down, on Cass street, was the “Touch of Class” a 24hr massage parlor … that did more then massages 😉

Oh my – it didn’t get much better!

Special thanks to David Osborn for supplying the historical content and photos.


  1. Tom Martin (POOP) says:

    I was the mismanager of the WHITEWHALE from 1968,1969. Hung out at Red Mountain in from1966 till the end. Dodged many cars crossing from the whale to the Red mountain and back over to the Hungry Horse Saloon. I rented a room at Dave & Jeanies House for awhile until he asked me to leave for being too weird for the neighborhood. They were right and I never held it against them . As i recall everyone who partied at Daves house was too weird for that neighborhood. I live in Tubac Arizon and am proud to be an official Zonie I’m 72 and am still riding my horse Rio and putting down the suds.

  2. aaaah, the White Whale, the only bar I ever missed, drove down from Encinitas (stone steps!) at least once a week.

  3. murphthesurf says:

    WTF yeah! I am an original Red Mtn Indian, one of a group of surfer chicks who kicked ass, literally.

    Tore up the RMI one night in the 60’s. Punched it out with a scag who started a fuss with me.
    Spilled out from the ladies room corridor to the bar room.

    Chairs, hair, fists and pitchers were flyin. I’ll never forget that night. Fuck staged reality TV. Don’t get any better than this!

    Long Live the Red Mtn (in your dreams)

  4. Did Tom Waits frequent The Red Mountain Inn in the late 60s? Jack Macpherson’s photos of TRMI include a bar customer who looks a lot like Tom Waits…

    And while on the subject of music and Windansea…any Jon Close stories? Jack used to tell his favorite JC story…”There was this little kid…he used to play piano at parties…he was incredible. He was like 8 or 9 and could play Cast Your Fate to the Wind”…he never knew the name of the kid…until 1999…when the kid had grown up and dropped by to invite Jack to an evening performance he was doing uptown at The Colonnial Inn on Prospect…what a great evening…


  6. Michael Johnson says:

    I recall running back and forth between the Inn and the White Whale across the street. As the evening would progress it became more and more of a challenge as one would expect. The bands were good and the covers cheap (if at all). I wonder what ever happened to the White Whale bunny (waitress). Could barely walk but never dropped a beer.

  7. valerie Forward says:

    The bar moved from Ozzie’s house to La Jolla Blvd., becoming the Red Mountain Inn. I recall tipping a few with friends on many occasions in both places.

    • Erica Nietfeld says:

      Hi Valerie, I don’t know if you will see this comment but I certainly do miss being in touch with you! We rocked La Jolla.

  8. Hap Freiberg says:

    I tended bar and checked IDs at the Whale for a few years while I was stationed in San Diego (Navy, ’68-’71). Met my ex, bless her, checking IDs…

    A wonderful place with wonderful people: Dan (owner and benefactor), Buck & Joanne, the 2 Susans, dark-hair and blonde. Manny. Sgt. Pepper, best dealer ever. Bands Penrod and Buffalo Breath. Monday night $1 spaghetti “dinners”. Brandies at Bully’s, freaking out the straights.

    Sometimes nostalgia is what it used to be…

  9. John K. Weldon says:

    James Rydell in the forefront of the Long Bar photo’s Dad was the Gallo wine distributer…There was not a grape in Red Mountain wine. On road trips to Newport and Balboa for Easter break we drank Royal Occasion and Stein beer…Nothing but the cheapest

  10. Bill Sowles says:

    I still have my original RMI teeshirt that Dave gave me, c.1965 I think I may donate it to the LJ Art Museum.

  11. Dave did you forget that I tended bar in those days? I still remember the beer chugging contests we used to hold as well as Cooky Tayler’s cooking.

    By the way I still have an original Mac Meda T-shirt, although it does not fit any longer.

  12. WHEN CRABS ROAR says:

    I was lucky to live in Bird Rock, I could crawl home!

  13. Tracy wynn says:

    Most excellent! Although a purple haze prevents me from remembering all of those times, the good thoughts remain dear to my heart, especially to those who have fallen in defense of this most loving and spirited of the 60s brotherhood.

  14. Crazy Lew says:

    When Dave enlarged the Mountain, I tried to sell him some hose molding…but no takers. Lew

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