KATE GERWIN’S LIST OF ACCOLADES are as long as the craft cocktail menu at her Albuquerque bar, Happy Accidents. A native of the Bay Area and 20-year mixologist, Gerwin advanced to the first-season finale of Netflix’s Drink Masters bartending competition show. “It is absolutely intense,” she says of the experience. “It’s a pressure-cooker environment that is not at all like what we do on a regular basis.” Gerwin’s career has also seen her design and open bars throughout the country; collaborate on a cocktail mixer with Simply beverages; and create cocktails for Netflix Bites, a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles. Since Happy Accidents opened last year, the Nob Hill spot was named Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar in 2022 and Best U.S. Bar Team in 2023, both from Forbes Magazine. With an ethos centered on the well-being of her team and her patrons, Gerwin constantly pushes the bounds of creativity in cocktails (including nonalcoholic ones) and redefines what it looks like to visit, work in, and own a bar.
WE HAVE THE MOST DIVERSE culture I have experienced in the United States. New Mexico far predates the United States as being a center of life and community.
PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE the rich diversity and intersection of so much life and history.
ONE OF THE THINGS WE’RE FOCUSING ON FOR THE FUTURE is using more invasive local herbs and plants in our cocktail making. We’re learning more about what we can forage and about what is good for us to harvest and use.
PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BE EXCLUDED from the community bar setting just because they don’t drink. The time and care that goes into our nonalcoholic drinks is the same as our cocktails.
I WANT EVERYONE in our bar to feel seen.
THE NONALCOHOLIC CHRIS BARLEY is a roasted barley tea with cassia seeds, garam masala, and dried cranberries. It includes molasses, and it’s very rich and malted. We’re pulling in flavors you usually find in whiskeys and beers.
WE’RE DOING A LOT OF THINGS people aren’t used to here.
WE CARE ABOUT the science of drink.
WE USE ANY INGREDIENT we can find and get access to—like mushrooms. At first, people see the Hot Date with a Fun Guy and think, ew. But it’s one of my favorite drinks on the menu.
WHEN PEOPLE TASTE IT, they say it’s really flippin’ good.
I DON’T LOVE THE IDEA of pitting people against each other. I really only want to compete with myself.
MY FAVORITE THING TO DRINK is agave spirits.
I LOVE GETTING PEOPLE used to the term “agave spirits,” because there are so many different kinds.
THEY ARE SO MUCH like wine, where they express so much terroir.
MOST BAR MENUS have around 12 cocktails. At Happy Accidents, we have anywhere between 60 and 80.
MIRACLE POP-UP TAKES OVER THE BAR IN DECEMBER. It’s a nationwide pop-up, where the bar is taken over with holiday-themed cocktails and decor.
WHEN WE REOPEN IN JANUARY, we’ll introduce 30 or 40 new cocktails. It’s a good opportunity to start with a clean slate and a good chance for us to throw our skills on the table.
The team is what makes us who we are. They put time and energy into us being successful, day in and day out. Their health, mental health, and wellness are priorities in how we operate.