The shop is a crucial spot for serious collectors to satisfy their highball, sidecar, margarita and absinthe needs. But Keeper also tries to convert committed beer drinkers. To explain the allure of cocktails to casual shoppers who peek inside the store, he sometimes asks, "Have you ever smoked a joint?" Depending on how the customer responds, he follows with this explanation: "There is a communal spirit to smoking with a group, it's the same thing with cocktails. Anybody can pour a beer, but it's the tradition of mixing, serving and sharing that makes drinking a group experience."
He also points out that it doesn't have to be alcohol that is consumed, especially if you serve your drinks in really cool glasses. One idea: Instead of bringing a bottle when you're invited to a party, bring your host some Bar Keeper martini glasses. Sure, anybody can buy some stemware at Crate & Barrel, but at Keeper's shop, you'll find one-of-a-kind pieces thanks to his army of pickers, a group of aggressive young men who travel outside of Los Angeles to retirement communities and score real finds.
Meanwhile, Keeper continues to do his part in nurturing the social tradition of cocktails by hosting parties in his shop the first Friday of every month. He invites a mixologist to come to the store and teach customers how to make one or two drinks. He's had absinthe tastings (it's
illegal to buy it or sell it, but not to drink it), and on December 5, he celebrated the repeal of Prohibition by drinking beer and Jack Daniel's. His parties are free and draw a nice, diverse crowd of lesbians, gays, transgenders, singles, breeders, you know, everyone. Keeper also screens drinking movies above one wall of the shop. Of course, The Thin Man is a favorite.
"William Powell woke up and poured himself a martini every morning and no one ever called him an alcoholic," says Keeper of the film's leading man. "There was a dignity and a sort of ritual ceremony to making that martini."
He relates that sense of dignity to his business: "I find that people, when they have the right kind of glass, they stand a little taller, a little prouder."