ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Happy Accidents Bar is once again putting Albuquerque on the map by being named Best U.S. Bar Team at the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s 17th annual Spirited Awards. “It is possibly one of the hardest and most prestigious awards to get. Tales of the Cocktail is our, the bar industries’, Oscars, Emmys, it’s the pinnacle of everything,” said Tammy Bouma, bar manager and bartender.
Bouma and other members of the Happy Accidents Bar team traveled from New Mexico to attend the Spirited Awards ceremony and the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans on July 27. “I tried to play it really cool and acted like I knew we were gonna win, and when they announced our name, I screamed at the top of my lungs,” said Zach Work, bar manager and bartender.
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The team at Happy Accidents operates as one unit, on an even playing ground. The two owners, Kate Gerwin and Blaze Montana, join staff in front and behind the bar helping serve up craft cocktails and dishes made in-house. With more than 40 drinks to choose from on the menu, staff are always adjusting their approach to make sure customers have an intimate experience. “One thing we say here is like, one team, one dream, and we’re all motivated towards that. Like just making this bar the best we possibly can. Not just our drinks, but hospitality,” said Luciano Urrutia, bartender.
Bouma said learning is constant on the job and at their monthly training sessions where they work on operating as a team, free pours, tastings, and more.
“Rule number one is, we always have each other’s back. Especially when we have to make a game-time decision. And then we’ll sit down and we’ll analyze it after like, ‘okay maybe this is the direction we should go next time, maybe this wasn’t the right call, or hey no, this was and we should find a way to codify and train this’,” Bouma explained.
Work hopes that winning the best U.S. Bar Team will show the world all Albuquerque has to offer and motivate others in the hospitality and bar industry. “I think it means that people should take Albuquerque more seriously. There’s some really amazing breweries, distilleries, bars out here and I would like to our community to become more inclusive of that,” Work said.
Work, an Albuquerque native, and Urrutia, of Las Vegas, New Mexico, were one of the first patrons at Happy Accidents when it opened in 2021. The two said they has a good experience and wanted to be part of the team. “It’s awesome to see a local business like that thrive, and from that point on I was like, ‘you know, I wanna work there’,” said Urrutia.
Bouma said she moved from Baltimore to work at Happy Accidents and credited the bar with giving her one-of-a-kind experiences. “We’ve gone to Guadalajara to find tequila to import directly. We’ve brought our bar to other markets like Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and been able to showcase what cocktails and what kind of things we can do. And it’s just an insane amount of creative freedom as well,” Bouma explained.
Happy Accidents is no stranger to the spotlight. In 2022, the bar was named Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar at the Spirited Awards. Gerwin, the co-owner of the bar, has also had a run-in with fame by helping Netflix open a pop-up restaurant called Netflix Bites in Los Angeles this year. Gerwin also appeared on the Netflix show “Drink Masters” and made it to the grand finale in 2022. She also became the first United States citizen and the first woman to win an international bartending award at the Bols Around the World Bartending Competition in 2014.
Regardless of the recognition on the national and international stage, staff hope to keep improving their craft and providing a unique experience in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque.
“It makes me proud to be part of something that’s bigger than myself,” said Work.