We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin “Jsleep” and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justin “Jsleep”, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is one of those things that can be viewed in the light of good AND bad. Throughout my time of being a business owner, risk has ACTUALLY elevated myself and my brand overall. it’s funny, but I started this entire company off something that I use to “just say”, which is “f**k it..YOLO” lol. that statement has a much more profound meaning to me now than ever. it’s LITERALLY saying “chances MAKE champions”

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I actually started bartending about 6 years ago through California Pizza Kitchen (s/o Mr. Brett, Victoria, Laura, Izzy, Brad & JB) where I started as a server. the opportunity came up and I INSTANTLY said “hell naw. I don’t wanna do that” lol. But Brett started breaking it down to me, I bit and been hooked every since. Chef Jabril of Sienna Sauce, threw me in deepest part of the water and told me to swim when he appointed me as bar manager over at Isles Eatery & Rhum Bar in 2017. That position was mind boggling, nerve wrecking and caused me to hate bar ANYTHING soon after. But Chef told me “I don’t know why but this just might be for you, so you gotta keep pushing” and so, I just kept going. I carried my talents over to Black Walnut Cafe, and that’s where I started to find my niche in creating handcrafted cocktails with a “pinch” of Jsleep lol. formulating an understanding towards bar operations, learning how to read guests to build that “Not so but PERFECT” relationship with them as well as many other attributes. then I met Mr. Peter and Cody during the pandemic and the VERY 1ST THING that was told to to me was “FORGET EVERYTHING YOU EVER LEARNED ABOUT BARTENDING and you’ll be just fine here (Ritual) and outside of this establishment.” that’s where things took the biggest turn for me. that’s where I went from “I can get paid to get people drunk” to “I’m creating delicious and marketable cocktails for the masses to enjoy while having fun AND getting paid” I would like the world to know that here at Measurements Of Excellence: A Black Bartending Experience, you’re going to get just that a BLACK BARTENDING EXPERIENCE. where I am able to discuss to origins of cocktails, terms and phrases we use throughout the industry, tools and techniques that you can use in the comforts of your own home and many other things. With this platform, I want to shine light on black bartenders and let it be known that WE ARE OUT HERE! I’m not saying that we’re being overlooked, but we’re just as good, intelligent and talented as everyone else throughout the world. s/o Bevin Biggers and Terrell Bonner. The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout this is, you can have shitty ice and STILL make an awesome drink. just like in life you can have a shitty hand dealt to you and still come out on top, just depends on how you play those cards

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Whenever I got my people coming in town, I tell em just like this. get your water, grab your towel, have on some comfortable shoes and tell your belly to get ready lol. Eat: The Locker Room, Kulture, Soul Food Vegan & Cyclone Anayas (City Centre). Drinks (besides from me lol): The Ready Room, Anvil, The Flat & Bar 5015. Visit: Houston Graffiti Park, Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, The Post Oak Hotel & Hermann Park (splash pad for the kids) Hang outs: Exhale Hookah Lounge off FM 1960, Memorial City/City Centre area, Amahle for Sunday Funday (s/o Tony The Drinkman). Honestly the list can go on and on, but here in Houston you start at one end and land on a completely different side with great people and vibes

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
wowwwwww. the pressure, huh? lol. 1st ALL GLORY, HONOR AND PRAISE to the Lord Jesus Christ. he knows EXACTLY what I been through to get this point. right after that my moms, the late great Pamela (thank you). my mentors Mr. Peter and Cody from The Ready Room off White Oak for ALL the lessons. Chef Jabril Riddick (Sienna Sauce). The Mighty 4 for giving me reasons to continue to build a legacy. My Aunt Robin and Ms. Renee for being my 2nd mothers and spiritual advisors. My Shipping/Receiving/Technology Team of Blue and Russia” other then that it is PERFECT! I’m so happy thank you guys again. this is a HUGE honor. EVERYBODY at Exhale Hookah Lounge. My FAVORITE AUTHOR, who taught me the importance of truly understanding the written language, sentence structure and just the power in words, the late great Eric Jerome Dickey Last but not least my brothers. Vice President Kevin “Big Kevo” Stevens, Jason & Ca$h (Apes.R.Us) for telling me that I’m different frm everybody and making sure I didn’t lose vision and fall victim to what I was use to doing prior to finding this path

Instagram: Instagram.com/moelifendrinks

Twitter: @Moedrinks & @vivalakneegrows

Other: Snapchat: glasses_iam

Image Credits

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.