Where most bartenders consider cocktails in terms of balance and flavor, Morgan Schick thinks about his drinks in terms of feelings and colors. His Taurus cocktail—with carrot and miso-infused gin—began with an idea of a summer evening in Tokyo. So it makes sense that he fits in as bar manager at San Francisco’s Trick Dog, where menus are created upon concepts like “Pantone,” “Classic Vinyl” and “Zodiac Signs.”
Before becoming a bartender, Schick worked as a cook in Portland, Oregon, and eventually made his way to the Barbary Coast where he joined cocktail consultants The Bon Vivants at Rio Grande after stints at Michael Mina and Nopa. At Trick Dog, Schick balances the bar’s notion of playfulness with thoughtfulness. The Mission District watering hole is a place where the music gets turned up, dancing and dice playing are encouraged, and rarified drinks are rendered lighthearted with goofy glassware or unexpected garnish. Schick, who also owns his own consulting company, Jupiter Olympus, repeats a Bon Vivants’ motto: “Delicious, not precious.” Because how many people can evoke Tokyo summers while mixing and shaking to the thrum of rock ‘n’ roll?
So what’s the one thing Schick knows now that he wishes he’d known five years ago? And which album would he listen to on loop for the rest of his life? Here, Schick tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share his weirdest cocktail experiment, the best meal he’s ever had and the one thing he wishes would disappear from drink lists forever.
Creative Director for The Bon Vivants and Trick Dog.
What do want to be when you grow up?
Major League pitcher.
Best thing you ever drank:
It’s all experiential. Like a bottle of Kingfisher in India, or whiskey from the barrel in a rickhouse or a Martini before a special meal.
Worst thing you ever drank:
Most recently: a huge, citric acid-filled “Margarita” that gave me a headache immediately.
First time you ever got drunk:
My roommate in high school smuggled a liter of Absolut Citron into our dorm and we had to finish it to get rid of the evidence. So we drank it warm with Mountain Dew chasers.
If you had to listen to one album on loop for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Highway 61 Revisited. Or maybe Sticky Fingers.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I used to photograph salad bar food.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
I still know very little.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I swear I’m going to get my cauliflower and crème de cacao drink to work.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I love going to the movies.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A cocktail with no sugar, juice, bitters, soda or wine. But still a cocktail.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Freddie’s in Louisville is a contender. Lots of whiskey, cold beer, a great jukebox and bartenders who are efficient and consummate storytellers.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
I was hitchhiking in Italy and got stuck and it was going to rain. It was Easter weekend, so everything was booked, and I had to stay at a hotel that I couldn’t afford. Since I was already spending money I didn’t have, I figured that I should have a nice meal. Gnocchi and a bottle of Chianti.
In a dive bar?
Bottle of Bud and a bourbon.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Lots of coffee. Lots of wishing I still smoked. Beer as soon as it seems appropriate.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The last text message you sent:
“Are you pregnant?” But not for the reasons that you’d think.