Albuquerque mixologist places second in Netflix’s ‘Drink Masters’ competition

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque bartender is hoping her recent appearance on Netflix’s newest competition show “Drink Masters” shines a much-deserved light on mixologists across the country and here in New Mexico.

“New Mexico has a great bar community, and it’s really great that we’re going to get some spotlight on kind of the things that community is pulling off really well,” said Kate Gerwin, co-owner of Happy Accidents in Nob Hill.

Gerwin competed against 11 other mixologists in the first-of-its-kind series. Contestants crafted specialty cocktails for a panel of judges for a chance at winning $100,000. Gerwin made it to the grand finale of the series – which debuted last Friday – but fell short of winning the competition.

“The show was amazing, the experience is great, I love competing. I just wanted to make it to the finals, I’m really glad I did,” she said.

Gerwin says all of the contestants are at the top of their game and served up some incredibly elaborate drinks – herself included.

“I did a three course molecular tasting breakdown of the drink with a Cocoa Puff cracker with fennel marscapone, a sphere of orange and mezcal, and it rounded out with a jelly of coffee and Amaro,” she said.

Gerwin says mixologists are more align with chefs than professional bartenders and believes the show made a good job at making that distinction.

“I think a lot of people come into a bar, and they just see you pour this and you pour this and you shake, and you’re done, but the behind the scenes work is incredible and intense,” she said. “We do a lot of prep and a lot of syrups and a lot of ingredients that we make, that we craft that goes into the final end result.”

Gerwin said she had five hours to prepare cocktails for the show and even that wasn’t in some cases. She also said some of her ingredients had to be prepared overnight.

Despite being produced by Netflix, Gerwin says there was one ingredient she wasn’t able to use in one of her drinks.

“Canada doesn’t have a plethora of green chilies laying around, so I did have to substitute, but we are gonna put that drink here on the menu with real green chiles,” she said.

Gerwin says she plans on adding several of the drinks she made during the competition to the Happy Accidents menu – which is already seeing a big surge in customers.

Two national rankings recently named Happy Accidents as the number 1 bar in the country. Gerwin says there’s been lines out the door since those rankings were published, and she expected “Drink Masters” will bring even more customers to the location.

“We’re excited, we’re ready. we’re gonna do what we do every day,” she said.

Despite her newfound fame, Gerwin says she wants to take a step back and give the Happy Accidents bartenders an opportunity to show off their skills.

“I was given an opportunity to let my creativity shine, and I want to be able to do that for other people. So the next step is me stepping aside and them being the stars of the show, because I really the ones that deserve it,” she said.

All 10 episodes of “Drink Masters” are streaming on Netflix.