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Robert Jacob Lerma - RoadHaus

How an Elite Austin Cocktail Den Opened up a "Bar On Wheels"


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If there's one thing that the culinary scene of Austin, Texas does better than any other, it's food truck service. Mobile restaurants and cafes can be found in every neighborhood in the Lone Star Capital, with some of the city's finest dishes prepared in tiny trailer kitchens. With the Austin food truck boom showing no signs of slowing down, some local hospitality pros find themselves looking for new ways to use this popularly-flexible and relatively low-cost business model that extend beyond tacos, burgers, and BBQ. One key example is the mobile bar RoadHaus, a "bar on wheels" recently launched by the team behind Austin's celebrated Roosevelt Room cocktail bar.

"We want to bring a craft cocktail experience to anyone's front door."

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Robert Jacob Lerma - RoadHaus

RoadHaus operates out of a 1967 Citroën HY Van that has been customized to function as a mobile cocktail bar. According to co-owner Justin Lavenue, the key to making intricate craft cocktails in a small space is "utilizing every square inch of the space. We also conducted numerous stress tests over the course of the six years that RoadHaus was in development in order to identify and solve any issues that may occur in a real life service."

Lavenue acknowledges that making cocktails in a food truck requires a great deal of advance planning and the ability to think on your feet. "When operating in a brick and mortar, things are relatively consistent, but when operating a mobile cocktail bar, details are ever-changing and each situation is unique. We handle this challenge by planning as much as possible prior to each mobile event so that our staff feels confident should any issues arise," Lavenue says. When we asked him about the most important step that he and his team take to promote solid organization during RoadHaus's outings, he told us: "Lists, lists, and more lists! Massive checklists are conducted prior to travel to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible when we arrive."

"We work personally with each event host to tailor a menu to suit the hosts' preferences."

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Robert Jacob Lerma - RoadHaus

RoadHaus offers guests a robust blend of classic cocktails and artisanal cocktails, along with a menu of engaging non-alcoholic options. "We aim for an ideal experience where guests at any event can partake in some of the best high quality cocktails in the comfort of their ideal setting," explains Lavenue. In service of this goal, Lavenue and the RoadHaus team consult with event hosts to get a strong sense of their preferences and to create menus informed by the guests' ideas.

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RoadHaus uses top-shelf spirits and carefully-sourced (and, wherever possible, homemade) juices, syrups, and other ingredients. For guests who prefer traditional favorites, RoadHaus makes Old Fashioneds, Mai Tais, and Sazeracs. And for those who want something creative (from the minds behind the beloved cocktails at the Roosevelt Room), RoadHaus will whip up drinks like the Cigar Box (mezcal, smoked black tea syrup, lavender bitters, tobacco essence, and a flaming cinnamon stick) and the Matcha Business (gin, mezcal, mint, matcha powder, absinthe, wildflower honey syrup, and lime). Their staple non-alcoholic offerings include a booze-free spin on the Negroni, and the RoadHaus team is also more than happy to design cocktails (both with spirits and without) that feature the party guests' favorite liquors and flavors.

"We want to serve our craft cocktails to events of all audiences and sizes."

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Robert Jacob Lerma - RoadHaus

When we asked Lavenue about RoadHaus's place in the Austin food truck scene, he told us that "[RoadHaus fits in] perfectly. There isn't much like it in Austin. RoadHaus is an outlier meant to be brought to the people and ultimately help round out Austin's hospitality culture." While RoadHaus has mainly served as a mobile cocktail den for private gatherings like weddings, parties, and networking events, Lavenue thinks that RoadHaus is "adaptable to any setting, environment, or location." He and the rest of the team hope to expand RoadHaus's reach to also include music festivals, public pop-up activations, and other cultural events where high-end cocktails served in a "food truck" environment would be an exciting addition.

READ: Sassy's Soul Food Truck in Austin Breaks the Bounds of Soul Food with All-Vegan Menu

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