Dec 2, 2016

Jimmy's Four Aces: A none-dare-call-it-trendy bar with pool, shuffleboard and Blatz but nada on draft

Jimmy's Four Aces: Craft beer? Not here
The hairy guy's report:

You walk into a bar these days and there's no telling what you'll find.

In San Francisco, it might be a crowd reading books in silence. In London, it could be people sipping cocktails in the nude. And due west across Michigan, in Hesperia, a cathouse gets heavy use behind a bar called Angelo's and Riccardo's; you wouldn't expect such a thing, but there it is.

Meanwhile, someone is always figuring out another beer gimmick.

There's Chocolate Fudge Bumpy Cake Double Brown Ale. Beer made from water that was sucked from a cloud. And Mr. Twit's Odious Ale, which includes yeast swabbed from the wood of Roald Dahl's writing chair. Which makes peanut-flavored beers (and there are plenty of them) sound almost normal. 


Where does it all end? At the corner of Farragut and 15th, it turns out -- at Jimmy's Four Aces, a no-frills corner bar that stands as a humble bulwark against the insidious forces of progress.

There, you'll find almost everything you need and not much else. "You can get Bud Light in a real pretty glass," explains Jessica, who tends bar by day.


What's on draft? Nothing. There is no draft, just plenty of cans and bottles. You can get a cold Blatz (in a real pretty brown bottle) but anything smacking of craft beer gets the cold shoulder.

Want a burger? You can bring your own. The bar will sell you a bag of potato chips (regular or

Jessica admiring Harry's origami bird
BBQ), pretzels or nuts to go with it. 

There is one good pool table ($1 a game) with good sticks (including a short one when the wall is in the way), one shuffleboard table (it leans toward the wall, so plan on some curving shots or a lot of gutter pucks), a dartboard (though anyone who walks in the front door will get hit) and a lottery machine. Impressive softball trophies are proudly displayed behind the bar. The walls have nicely framed beer art. The place is clean.

City directories show a bar at 321 S. Farragut at least as far back as 1893. And once upon a time ("back in the day," says Jessica), the Four Aces did serve food and had beer on tap. But operations have reverted to simple and basic. You want trendy? Look elsewhere.
 
Oh, sure, modern times have crept in. There are a couple of big-screen TVs and an internet jukebox. They'll take credit cards. And yes, there is wi-fi. But when we lamented that, Jessica
View from the pool table
said she wouldn't give us the password. Fair enough.

A highfalutin attempt at ordering a Manhattan didn't get far; there was no vermouth. Jessica suggested a gin and tonic ($2.50), saying it was "made with love." But love only gets you so far, and in this case it provided half-flat bottled tonic. It also didn't extend to limes (there were none) or lemons (which had gone bad).

Domestic beers (Bud, Miller, Busch, etc., including the bottles of Blatz) are $1.25 during the day, or $2 after 6:30 p.m. Some 24-oz. cans are $2.75 all the time. So if you're on a tight budget, you could switch to the large cans for dinner. Want something fancier? Dos Equis ($2.70) is about as upscale as you'll get, but that "most interesting man in the world"
character isn't likely to show up.

The most interesting man in the bar, though, may be Jimmy -- the one in Jimmy's Four Aces. It's worth a visit just to hear him laugh. He's owned the place for 19 years, usually tends bar one night a week and calls himself the bar's social director. 


Business, he says, "has been good over the years" but slower recently. "The
Jimmy at 75
original ones are dying off on me," he explains. Maybe some cats would help.

Jimmy is 75 years old and lives in the adjoining house (which includes a room of Coca-Cola memorabilia). When we showed up, he was nursing a broken arm from a recent fall though it didn't seem to ruin his good humor. (A great video of him is here: https://vimeo.com/41246496)


The Four Aces opens daily at 11 a.m. (noon on Sundays). When is closing? "Depends on the crowd," says Jimmy. "I play it by ear."

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See Doc’s report on the Four Aces: Spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs: Ah, the good old days


  The particulars:
  Jimmy's Four Aces
  321 S. Farragut 

  989-895-5874

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