Justin Lavenue, co-owner of The Roosevelt Room, got his start in the restaurant business bussing tables at an Indian restaurant while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. Within a few short months, he started bartending and was quickly promoted to Bar Manager. When asked to create a new drink menu for the establishment to match the fresh, bold flavors found in Indian cuisine, he developed an obsession for artfully crafted cocktails and fine spirits.
In the summer of 2011, after graduating Valedictorian of CU’s Leeds School of Business, Lavenue began work at The Bitter Bar, one of Colorado’s first cocktail bars. He served as the Head Bartender there for two years. In the summer of 2013, the opportunity to open a bar in Austin and take advantage of the burgeoning culinary scene arose, so he decided to move back to his hometown.
In September of 2013, he passed the rigorous BAR 5-day course in NYC and is currently working toward completing his BAR Masters certification, which only one person in the country has yet to complete. In December 2013, he was offered the opportunity to be part of the opening staff at Half Step, a cocktail bar owned by Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey in NYC and Chris Bostick and Eric Alperin of The Varnish is Los Angeles. Lavenue was one of Petraske’s last standout understudies before his passing in August 2015.
In June 2015 Lavenue opened The Roosevelt Room, alongside business partner Dennis Gobis. In July 2015, he was one of 25 up-and-coming bartenders featured in the 2015 Food & Wine Cocktail Book. In August 2015, he was recognized with one of Zagat Austin’s 30 Under 30 Awards. In September 2015, he won Bombay Sapphire’s 9th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition and in November 2015, he was named Bartender of the Year by Eater Austin.