By Michael Benninger / Photo by Kristina Yamamoto
rik Sadlicki is anything but your average bartender - he doesn't drink, he doesn't drive and he's not a sports fan. He is, however, a multidisciplinary artist who paints, writes and plays three musical instruments. A Chicagoland native, he moved to San Diego in 2004 and began bartending shortly thereafter.
"After cruising the PB circuit for many years, I decided it was time to head downtown and immerse myself in a different scene," says Licki, as he's known to friends. "And after working at a few places down here, I was lucky enough to get hired at Union. So far, it's been awesome."
Despite having his hands full at the Gaslamp's new Union Kitchen & Tap, Sadlicki takes a moment to talk about mats, McLovin and motherf**kers.
PacificSD: What differentiates you from other bartenders?
Sadlicki: "Well, I'm certainly not as up-to-date on sports trivia as most bartenders, but I could definitely discuss Einstein's theory of relativity with you."
What's your signature drink?
"I make a great Sazerac. It's a nice twist on an Old Fashioned, and it's made with rye, Peychaud's bitters, agave nectar, lemon zest and an absinthe rinse, which adds a nice aromatic dynamic to the cocktail. It's a classic you can't go wrong with."
What's your least favorite drink to make?
"An Adios Motherf**ker, mainly because it's an overpriced tumbler of low-end liquor and high-fructose corn syrup that, in my opinion, doesn't even taste good. For a negligible price difference, someone could get a handcrafted cocktail with quality liquor and fresh ingredients. Just saying."
What's the strangest drink request you've received?
"While I was bartending in PB, a freshly 21-year-old guy came up to me and asked, 'How much for a mat shot?' I paused and said, 'You mean all the crap that's accumulated on the bar mat where I've been pouring drinks all night? This one's on me.' I drained the mat into a glass, then he pounded it and was really stoked. Yikes!"
Have you ever served a celeb?
"I once got to serve McLovin from Superbad. Well, the actor that plays McLovin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. And, yes, he showed me his real ID [unlike his character in the movie]. He was super cool and let me take a picture with him. He took great care of the bartenders."
Who's your fantasy customer?
"If I had to choose one person to pour a drink for, it would be Einstein because, well, he's Einstein. I might learn a thing or two."
If you could enjoy only one alcoholic drink for the rest of your life, what would it be?
"Believe it or not, I actually don't drink, so I'm not sure how to answer that one."
What do you like most about working at Union?
"Union is an awesome spot with an incredible atmosphere. We offer great food, innovative craft cocktails, a fine selection of local craft beers and quality live entertainment. I'd hang out at Union even if I didn't work here."
What do you do when you're not working?
"I play drums, guitar and bass. I am an artist - I paint modern, contemporary, abstract works and I have a degree in psychology."
What occupation would you have in an alternate reality?
"If I wasn't a bartender, I'd probably be a computer nerd or something."
Union Kitchen & Tap
333 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp