Chicago bar’s Ike Turner Shot served with a slap to the face
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA firstname.lastname@example.org/@cstdhoekstra June 13, 2013 12:21AM
After first getting a warning, reporter Dave Hoekstra gets a slap in the face from Red Line Tap bartender Nick Goodman before he gets to drink his shot. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 15, 2013 3:14PM
Every good bartender knows how to turn the other cheek.
It is a lesson that would have well served rock ’n’ roll quasar Ike Turner (1931-2007).
Turner is as much known for his spats with ex-wife Tina Turner as he was for his seminal blues. In her 1986 biography “I Tina,” she wrote of Ike’s spousal abuse. In his own 1999 biography “Taking Back My Name” Turner wrote, “Sure I’ve slapped Tina. ... But I have never beat her.”
In May 2011 the gentle folks at the Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, hosted a Stepper’s Party at the Heartland Cafe. General manager Brettly Kawaguchi ordered a case of Hennessy cognac for the dance party. By the end of the night he still had 11 full bottles.
And with that the “Ike Turner Shot” was born.
“It was a bad idea that has taken off in an underground way,” he said.
During a recent night at the Red Line, a local chapter of the National Organization of Women was hosting a literary event in a back room. Women were reading poetry about vaginas, men and vaginas. The south side of the room by the bar consisted of about 20 male regulars watching the Blackhawks on television. No one was ordering an Ike Turner.
So I did.
It is worth it because you get two moments in time (the slap and the shot, just like hockey) in one.
Here is how it goes down after you pay $8:
1. The bartender warned that I was going to get slapped. This covers the Red Line in lawsuits that are always a part of show business.
2. The bartender then screamed, “I’VE GOT AN IKE TURNER!”
3. The customer got looked in the eye and belittled.
4. Bartender Nick Goodman then slapped me with an open hand. Really sort of hard. (He also laughed.)
5. I drank the shot. Then I went to the bathroom to examine the welt on my left cheek.
A large cardboard cutout of a ’froed Ike Turner watches over the bar. A “Star Trek”-themed tote board ranks Ike Turner Shots served by Red Line bartenders as admirals, captains, etc .
Area metal bands love the Ike Turner. “Pain Face and all nine of their roadies came in,” Kawaguchi said. “Nick lined up nine shots.” The Polkaholics punk-polka band had its 15th anniversary show at the Red Line. “I didn’t want to slap Don [Hedeker, bandleader],” Kawaguchi explained. “Nick didn’t want to slap Don. But their group ordered 25 of them. And that’s how the night progressed.
“Don was my ex’s Bio-stats II professor.”
Women haven’t complained about the shot, according to Kawaguchi, and there were no complaints with NOW in the room.
“We sell about half and half to women and guys,” he said. “We don’t rock anybody. A couple political folks got upset when we started. It’s just a gag, to get that nice little sound ...” and he stopped to make the snap of a snare drum in some distant juke joint.
Female bartender Micki Croisant slaps customers.
She recalled, “There were 15 guys on a bar crawl. They all ordered a shot. They thought I was going to roll down the row and go, ‘boom, boom, boom.’ But I gave each of them my detailed attention: ‘Bam, Bam, Bam!’ It felt great. I pictured every bad customer I had in the last five years.”
The Red Line doesn’t miss tie-ins like the Nov. 5 birthdate of Turner. Kawaguchi said, “The bar was packed with people getting Ike Turners. And it was a Monday night.” And just around the corner is the July 7 anniversary of when Tina left Ike for good. “We sold a lot of champagne that night,” he said.
But why Ike Turner? Why not James Brown? Or Mel Gibson?
“Ike was one of the first totally wrong guys in that industry,” Kawaguchi answered. “Lizzie Borden? We’re not going to poison somebody. Ike seemed safe. We don’t want to hurt anybody. Ike was pretty wrong for his entire life.”
In fact, Turner was in prison in 1991 when Ike and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Present-day jailhouse rocker Phil Spector accepted on their behalf.
Kawaguchi said Loyola University students buy the Ike Turners. “A 21st birthday party pulled up here in a limo,” he said. “Stopped. Walked in. Got a round of Ike Turners, hopped back in the limo and left.”
Kawaguchi’s father Roy used to own the Red Line Tap.
The venture has always been a proud marriage.
“I was born right across the street,” said Kawaguchi, 40. “A member of my family has been bartending in this neighborhood since the late 1950s. I never really left the area. I moved to Wicker Park for a while and came back up here. When my dad passed in 1997, I gave it all up for this.”
You gotta give him a hand.