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Bar Director: Shawn Lickliter

Shawn Lickliter grew up in East Tennessee. His motto, “Eat your grandmother’s cooking, while drinking your grandfather’s moonshine”. He began working in restaurants when he was 15 years old and found his way into bartending when he started college. Shawn also worked at his local specialty liquor store where he learned all the ins and outs of everything from wine to spirits. After college, Shawn was a touring musician for ten years. Fun Fact: He was the guitarist for the one hit wonder “By Now” by the band Copper.  

Shawn ended up in Los Angeles through the music world and was hired as a song writer. When not touring and writing songs, Shawn continued to bartend. He worked at Bouchon in Beverly Hills for 4 years, where he met Chef Walter Manzke. Soon after, Shawn officially joined the Republique team as Bar Director. Most recently, Shawn was promoted to oversee the bar programs for all of the Manzke properties, including Republique, Petty Cash Taqueria, and Sari Sari Store.  

We caught up with Shawn to learn about the man behind some of LA’s best bars:  

How do you run the Bar Program at Republique? 
Democracy, it’s the only way. I am always open to suggestions and I want the bartenders to be happy with what they’re making. Collaboration is also key. Besides chef, they are my first audience. I believe in their palettes.  

What makes the bar program at Republique so unique? 
I have the same approach that Chef Walter does with the food – “Eat and drink the way we like to eat and drink”. I want you to drink what you like to drink. This is our house, and we’ve invited you to come to this really great dinner party – here’s what we’re serving tonight. Instead of adhering to the more common brands we are trying to introduce new brands that we like.  

Did you ever have formal training? 
I wasn’t formally trained but I was trained in the classics. I once overheard Thomas Keller say something that resonated with me, “if you don’t know the basis of the 5 classic sauces, then you can’t make dishes that are more unique or special for the menu”. If you know the foundations of classic cocktails, then you can build from there.  

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off? 
My favorite thing to do on my day off, without being too nerdy… I’m a huge foodie so I eat a lot and like to try new things. I’m also a big fan of amusement parks. When I was touring if I had a day off I would go by myself to amusement parks.  

What is a fun fact about yourself? 
To celebrate Halloween, I watch a different scary movie every day of October every year. You’d be surprised, there are some pretty bad scary movies out there.  

What is your spirit of choice? 
Whiskey because of growing up in Tennessee. I think it is important to embrace American whiskey. Bourbon is the only spirit that is 100% American. Every culture has their own spirit or wine and this belongs to us.  

Go-to drink? 
Gin and tonics, Spanish style, and close second is a Negroni. 

What is your favorite dish on the menu? 
Roasted chicken. There are so many dishes that remind me of where I grew up, that I’ll go to chef and say “this reminds me of this”. You want to serve things that invoke nostalgia. The roasted chicken was that for me. Growing up I went to my grandma’s every Sunday for chicken and all kinds of fried foods.  

What are your favorite restaurants in LA, besides Republique? 
Here’s Looking at You, Tsubaki, Hatchet Hall. Funny enough, Chef Walter and I share similar favorites!