It’s been a good year for Justin Lavenue.
He’s opened his own bar, the Roosevelt Room, in downtown Austin with bartending partner Dennis Gobis and won a cocktail competition or two — and now he’s also picked up a nice new title from Eater Austin’s Eater Awards 2015: Bartender of the Year.
After competing against the likes of Justin Elliott, Jennifer Keyser and other notables in Austin’s ever-growing bar scene, Lavenue was declared the winner today on Eater Austin, which also listed winners for restaurant and chef of the year and other accolades.
“Justin Lavenue knows his cocktails, after working at Whisler’s, Drink.Well, and Half Step,” according to Eater Austin’s announcement. “Now he gets to shine with the Roosevelt Room, before he and co-owner Dennis Gobis turn the West 5th bar into a three-story drinking destination next year. For now, though, the Roosevelt Room is his drinking playground, where he explores every iteration of the cocktail, from past to present.”
That might be my favorite part of the Roosevelt Room: the menu that showcases each era of American cocktails. That’s a total of 53 drinks, in addition to the entirely separate menu of original cocktails, but Lavenue, Gobis and their bar team pull off such a feat with their usual skill and flair. On a recent trip to the West Fifth Street bar, I tried the Prohibition-era Charlie Chaplin with sloe gin, apricot brandy and lime; bright and fruity, it’s been one of the best drinks I’ve had in awhile.
To taste Lavenue and Gobis’ bartending talent yourself, stop by the bar on a Tuesday. Every week, that’s when happy hour will last all night from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The deal includes $6 cocktails like the Palma Fizz, El Diablo and Old Fashioneds, as well as $1 off beer and $2 off wine.
The Roosevelt Room is also about to debut Whiskey Wednesdays, according to a press release — kicking off this week with half-priced pours of Rip Van Winkle 10 Year. It’s a good bet the bottle won’t last long, so get there early.
Another bartender featured in Eater Austin’s Bartender of the Year competition was Travis Tober of Vox Table, but he won’t be on Austin “best of” lists much longer — yesterday he announced he’s becoming the director of education and advocacy at Portland’s House Spirits. The distillery produces his beloved Aviation Gin, which he’s peddled on a part-time basis for the past couple years.
“I’m sure (Vox Table’s) bar team is going to keep on racking up the accolades long after I’m gone,” he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.