Drink Like a San Franciscan: The Legacy of the Squadron Bottle at the Top of the Mark

During World War II, San Francisco was the largest port on the West Coast. The, recently completed, Mark Hopkins Hotel, located atop Nob Hill, became a destination for service members and their loved ones during the great war. The views at the Top of the Mark became the destination to catch one last glimpse of loved ones, as they shipped out to the War in the Pacific. The view at the historic San Francisco destination is unparalleled. The northwest corner of the room offers some of the most stunning views of the city and the bay. This corner was nick named “weeper’s corner” in the 1940’s.  Crowds would gather in the northwest corner of the room, hoping to catch a glance of  friends and family, one last time as they boarded ships headed for the South Pacific. Many broke down in tears, knowing that this would possibly be the last time they would see this member of their family alive. The popular American Magazine, “Life”, deemed the Top of the Mark to be , “an outbound serviceman’s last port of call”.

Squadron Bottle history
Squadron Bottle History

The Top of the Mark, not only became a destination for those shipping out, but also for those returning from war. Nearly 30,000 service members a month rode the elevator to the 19th floor. It is said that those shipping out went to forget that they may lose their lives in battle and those returning drank to celebrate being safe on American Soil. Those shipping out had a superstition that a toast to the Golden Gate was good luck and likely to bring their safe return. 

Squadron Bottle at Top of the Mark
Squadron Bottle

Out of the tragedy of World War II arose a tradition that is carried out to this day. During the war, servicemen would buy a bottle, drink some of it and leave the rest marked for their unit, branch or just for other servicemen passing through. According to tradition the person who takes the last shot is required to purchase the next squadron bottle. This is a tradition carried on to this day. For military personnel and veterans, the Top of the Mark is a great destination for food, drink and entertainment over fleet week. The squadron bottles donated are showcased in glass outside the entrance of the venue. Each has a personal note attached by the service member, who donated the bottle. Some pay tributes to those whose lives were lost. There have been so many bottles donated that they have more than can fit in the display case.

The Top of the Mark  will be offering extended business hours during Fleet Week, as it is an excellent place to watch the air show in style.Information will be available through the concierge or on line at https://www.sfmarkhopkins.com/top-of-the-mark  Be sure to raise a glass to the Golden Gate for good luck.

Top of the Mark San Francisco
Top of The Mark – Image via Shutterstock

Top of The Mark
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
999 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Website: https://www.topofthemark.com/