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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Loved Ones Mourn Popular Chicago Bartender Who Drowned In Lake Michigan: ‘The Service Industry Lost An Icon’

Luis Alberto Davila's loved ones described him as a "loving, caring, amazing individual who brought all of us together."

Luis Alberto Davila, a popular bartender and mixologist, died Aug. 17 after jumping into Lake Michigan near Diversey Harbor.
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LINCOLN PARK — A 43-year-old man who was pulled from Lake Michigan near Diversey Harbor Wednesday morning was a talented mixologist and bartender beloved within Chicago’s restaurant and bar industry for his positive energy, his friends said.

Luis Alberto Davila, also known as Michael Mix, was with several other people who “went into the water” at Lake Michigan about 5 a.m. Wednesday near the 2600 block of North Cannon Drive, police said. Davila did not come back up, police said.

The Fire Department and Police Department’s Marine Unit responded and pulled Davila from the water, police said. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Davila drowned and ruled his death an accident.

Donations from loved ones and supporters poured into a GoFundMe page set up by Davila’s friend, Monica Koszarek, quickly raising more than $32,000 for his funeral expenses.

Davila most recently worked at Y Bar in River North and was an entrepreneur selling his own blend of michelada, a Mexican cocktail typically made with beer, lime, salt, hot sauce and spices.

“He was the kind of bartender you’d walk up to and he’s already got a napkin ready for you before you even say a word,” said friend and roommate Bryan Ortega, who met Davila eight years ago while working together. “He poured his soul into providing a service for everybody.”

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Luis Alberto Davila (second from the right) sells his bottled Mixchelada at Golden Crust Pizza and Tap.

Davila was born April 5, 1979, in Mexico, where he grew up and got his start as a bartender by working in nightclubs in Mexico City, Ortega said. Davila moved to the United States about 20 years ago and continued working in the service industry.

“He met all these people who instantly loved him because he was like a rockstar,” Ortega said. “He was always the life of the party, extremely nice and well-mannered, fun to be around and caring, loving and kind.”

Koszarek, who met Davila 13 years ago, said he was known for his “great energy and long ponytail.”

“When he let that ponytail go, you knew it was party time,” Koszarek said. “Since the day I met him, he was very easy to approach. He was selfless, loving and caring and everybody wanted to be around him.

“He always welcomed everybody and didn’t care who you are.”

Davila was also known for crafting his own cocktails for friends and colleagues to try, like his pepino margarita and mango shots with small hearts at the top, Koszarek said.

He was best known for his MixChelada, a traditional mix inspired by recipes he learned in Mexico City and perfected in Chicago, Ortega said. Davila started bottling the mix and selling it with Ortega three years ago.

“He was very adamant that the mix couldn’t use clamato, an ingredient in a lot of micheladas that isn’t traditional Mexican — it’s Tex-Mex,” Ortega said. “He wanted traditional micheladas like he had in Mexico, so he made his own mix.”

Ortega said he plans to continue selling Davila’s bottled MixChelada to honor his friend.

“I want to make sure the company we started just three years ago continues to grow and be his legacy,” Ortega said. “We had a lot of plans and I want to make sure I fulfill that for him.”

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Funeral details are being finalized, but services will be held in Chicago first before Davila’s body is taken to Mexico for a funeral with his family, Koszarek said.

“The service industry lost an icon and friend who can never be replaced,” Koszarek said. “His loss will be felt forever.”

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