Mick Kipp, Pickles bartender and spice-maker, dies

The mood Tuesday inside Pickles Pub, across from Camden Yards, matched the gray rainy weather.

As noontime regulars ate their lunch and quietly caressed glasses of beer amid the low-key chatter and music playing in the background, something clearly was wrong.

Mick Kipp, their favorite bartender, co-worker, cook, spice maker, friend and genuine all-around character, was missing.

Michael D. "Mick" Kipp, the stuntman-turned-bartender known for his zest for life and his colorful chili-pepper-decorated kilts, bandannas and earring, died Sunday from cardiac arrest at his Annapolis home. He was 51.

"He was one of a kind, man. There was no one else like him in Baltimore," said Raj Jandu, 35, a laboratory researcher at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the nearby University of Maryland.

"His death was an incredible shock. Here was a guy who couldn't sit down for 10 seconds. He couldn't help it. He always had to find something to do," said Mr. Jandu.

Chere Petty, another regular who also works at the University of Maryland, recalled Mr. Kipp as "being energetic and smiling. He was a hustler."

Whenever she came into Pickles, Ms. Petty said, Mr. Kipp greeted her with a snappy, "What's up, kid?"

Mr. Kipp returned to his home Saturday after a 30-mile Sierra Club hike along the C&O Canal. He was speaking with Gwen M. Kinsella, his companion of five years, on Sunday morning when he was stricken with the cardiac arrest that ended his life.

"For the last 45 minutes of his life, he was so happy," said Ms. Kinsella, who is the East Coast on-premise regional manager for Heineken Beer. "He was talking to me about his hike and kissing me. He did not suffer."

Joe Gold, sales manager for the Heavy Seas Brewery, was a friend for 27 years.

"The world got less bright when I heard the news," he said.

Mr. Gold said Mr. Kipp "lived life to the fullest."

"Mick just wasn't one thing, he had lots of things going on," he said. "He'd be selling spices early in the morning at the Waverly Market and then would tend bar until 2 a.m. and then get home by 3 a.m.

"He was the kindest, most passionate person I've ever met in my life."

Charlie Vascellaro, a Baltimore writer and longtime bartender, was also a friend of many years.

"He was also known as 'Whiskey Island Mick' and also 'Mick T. Pirate,'" recalled Mr. Vascellaro. "Talk about getting what you put back into life: Mick's enthusiasm was so contagious. He added such spice to life both figuratively and literally. He was a great self-promoter but also completely selfless."

He added: "The city has lost a great treasure. They should fly one of Mick the Pirate flags at half-mast somewhere prominently in the city."

Michael Douglas Kipp was born in Ashland, Ohio, and graduated from high school in Cleveland.

While attending high school, Mr. Kipp, a wrestler, was pushed down a flight of stairs.