The drinks list is organized by decade at The Roosevelt Room, a soaring cocktail destination in Austin’s Warehouse District. Equal parts neighborhood spot and “mixology mecca,” the bar is currently revamping its 50-drink menu for the first time since opening in 2015.
We caught up with co-owner Justin Lavenue, a Daiquiri devotee who was voted “Most Imaginative Bartender” in the 2015 Bombay Sapphire competition. He was delightfully candid about the best and worst bottles at his home bar (hint: they’re the same!), the drinks he “chugged at the stroke of midnight” on his 21st birthday, and more.
1. What’s your desert-island drink?
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Well, I’d have to say a very large glass of fresh water, first and foremost, but after that I don’t know. Maybe a meat milkshake; I’d pretty much settle for anything. I don’t think castaways have the right to be very picky in those sorts of situations.
2. What’s the first drink you bought when you turned 21?
I was lucky enough to have my of-age girlfriend pre-order me a Cosmopolitan AND a Lemon Drop (to be chugged in quick succession at the stroke of midnight) on my 21st birthday. I don’t remember much about the night after that.
Can’t we just move to Utah and have a polyamorous relationship? I love all three of those drinks.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your final drink?
Now this is definitely a situation that calls for being picky. Without a doubt, I would choose a dram of Lagavulin 16-year, simply because that is the first drink I ever shared with my father when I was around 12. I’d want to spend my last few hours remembering the life I’ve had and the people I’d spent it with.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
My home bar because then I wouldn’t have to leave my house. I spend enough time in bars as it is, and what if the bar I chose goes out of business? What then? Do I have to go sober? I’m pretty sure my home bar will always be there, and besides the owner being a dick, the drinks are all right.
6. What’s the best and worst bottle on your shelf?
At my home bar – RumChata for both answers. After all, who doesn’t like rum and horchata conveniently packaged for your immediate consumption? Then again, who wants to admit that their guilty pleasure is rum and horchata conveniently packaged for your immediate consumption?
7. What cocktail will you never order again?
I can’t say that there is a drink that I would NEVER order again, as everything has an appropriate time and place. I’m pretty “equal-opportunity” when it comes to spirits and cocktails… I drink anything and everything depending on the situation and who I’m with.