Best Nonagenarian Bartender

Daisuke Miyagawa at Cove Lounge

by

Critics' Picks

On Monday and Wednesday nights at Hyde Park's Cove Lounge, you can order an Old Style from a bartender with a very old style. A slight man in big glasses who speaks in a deep rasp, 90-year-old Daisuke Miyagawa is the kind of stoic barkeep you'd expect in a smoky postwar joint packed with men in bowlers grabbing a drink before the 5:02. Quiet, efficient, and with a scornful eye for dusty counters, "Dike" still gets a respectful fist bump from the staff and regulars. "I'm not what you'd call a glad-handing bartender," he says. "You don't ask anything and you don't tell anything. I'd make a lousy stripper." Miyagawa began tending bar in 1946—three years after arriving in Chicago and four years after being released from a Japanese-American internment camp—serving beers in Hyde Park before the unofficial dividing line between whites and blacks, Cottage Grove Avenue, emerged around 1957, driving off his main clientele. Following the money, he moved to a place called Mama Batts on East 22nd, when that stretch of Michigan Avenue was known as "Music Row" for the nearby Chess Records studios. Miyagawa doesn't know if he served John Lee Hooker or Howlin' Wolf—he says he never asked who anyone was.

More Categories

More Categories

Arts & Culture

Food & Drink

City Life

Music & Nightlife

Goods & Services

Sports & Recreation

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment
 

Add a comment