Bar Keeper Moves One Big Step Closer to Liquor License

Bar Keeper's neon sign.
Bar Keeper's neon sign.
Robert Takata

Bar Keeper proprietor Joe Keeper doesn't just sell vintage cocktail shakers and uncommonly flavored bitters at his Silver Lake store. He sells ritual. And hopefully, he'll soon be able to sell alcohol.

On Tuesday, the eve of the store's fifth anniversary, Keeper had a hearing before L.A.'s Office of Zoning and Administration to determine whether his recently acquired liquor license can be married with his conditional use permit. About 30 supporters showed up, including members of the Bartenders' Guild and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. It's one of the final steps in a complicated process that has taken eight months and cost nearly $100,000. Keeper must wait six to eight weeks to find out the Zoning board's ruling. After that, he still needs the ABC (the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) to sign off. Keeper doesn't expect to start selling alcohol until July.

Fans of retro glassware need not worry. If approved, alcohol sales will take up less than 25% of Bar Keeper's floor space. The goal is definitely quality not quantity. Keeper plans to curate an inventory of obscure small-batch spirits and liqueurs that larger merchants don't carry.

Come Christmas-time, he hopes to offer gift boxes that pair his one-of-a-kind glassware sets with various liquors. Perhaps a Sazerac kit that includes rye, absinthe, Pechaud's bitters, a muddler and a set of glasses. We say: Bottoms up.


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