Dream Come True

Matthew Korzelius proves that hard work pays off at The Roosevelt Room in Austin, Texas.

At The Roosevelt Room in Austin, Texas, Matthew Korzelius oversees a cocktail menu that spans decades.
At The Roosevelt Room in Austin, Texas, Matthew Korzelius oversees a cocktail menu that spans decades. (Photo by Robert Lerma)

Every job Matthew Korzelius has had has been in food and beverage, starting with his first one at Burger King in high school. But he didn’t truly become a part of the hospitality industry—or even begin to understand the difference—until he got behind the bar when he was nearly 30 years old. “I started learning the ropes at a cocktail bar in downtown Buffalo, New York and a neighborhood bar and restaurant near Niagara Falls around 2012,” he says. “That’s when I caught the hospitality bug.” 

Shortly after, Korzelius moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to begin a four-year stint at Manna, where he created cocktail menus while still learning the ins and outs of bartending. “But I knew I wanted to try my hand in a bigger city, and Austin, Texas was on the short list of places I wanted to land,” he says. “I knew I needed to do something to set myself apart in Austin, so I worked my way up through the BAR 5-Day Program, where I met The Roosevelt Room team.” He clearly made an impression: he was hired to join their team in June 2017. “I worked for five years—and today you can find me there as bar manager and, as of last July, a partner in the business.”

At The Roosevelt Room, cocktails are the name of the game (most cocktails are $14-$18), with the menu divided into two main categories: Classics, which are organized by era from pre-1880 to the 2000s and span some 53 selections, and house cocktails, which includes what Korzelius calls “more creative, nerdier” drinks. There’s certainly plenty to choose from on the expansive menu, ranging from the classic Cosmopolitan ($15; recipe below)—first made in 1988—to Korzelius’s Buck to the Future ($15), comprising George Dickel rye; Nardini amaro; Lustau Manzanilla Sherry; strawberry, basil, and balsamic purée; ginger syrup; and lemon juice. “Our cocktail program is reliant on a rigorous training program and an emphasis on consistency and execution— being involved in that training, in building this team, has been an absolute dream come true,” Korzelius says. “People come to work at The Roosevelt Room knowing it’s going to be rigorous, so I get to really dig in with passionate, talented people and get the best out of them. I’m proud to be among the leaders here where everyone just wants to be great.”

The Roosevelt Room’s Recipes


(Photo by Eric Medsker)

1½ ounces St. George California Citrus vodka; 

¾ ounce Combier Orange liqueur¹; 

½ ounce cranberry juice; 

½ ounce lime juice; 

¼ ounce simple syrup; 

Lime peel.


In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine vodka, orange liqueur, juices, and syrup. Shake and strain into a Martini glass, Garnish with a lime peel.

¹The Roosevelt Room uses a blend of different orange liqueurs and bitters, but Combier is a suitable substitute.

Buck To The Future

(Photo by Eric Medsker)

1½ ounces George Dickel rye; 

½ ounce Nardini amaro; 

¼ ounce Lustau Manzanilla Sherry; 

¾ ounce strawberry, basil, and balsamic purée²; 

½ ounce ginger syrup3; 

½ ounce lemon juice; 

Thai basil sprig; 

5 cracks Savory Spice Whiskey Barrel Smoked black pepper.


In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine rye, amaro, Sherry, purée, syrup, and juice. Short shake and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with basil and pepper.

²In a pot, add 2 pounds destemmed and quartered strawberries, 2 cups white sugar, 18 ounces water, and 32 basil leaves. Simmer on medium heat for around 10 minutes, until sugar has fully dissolved and strawberries have softened. Remove the basil leaves with tongs, then allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse 3 times for 2 seconds each pulse until it becomes a consistent purée. Add 2 ounces balsamic vinegar, then pulse one more time for 2 seconds.

³Blend together 1 part white sugar, ½ part water, and ½ part fresh ginger juice.