Kate Gerwin and Russell Davis share their beginnings to the love of cocktails
Menu Seattle had the opportunity to sit down with two of the most famous mixologists in the country, Kate Gerwin and Russell Davis.
HOW DID KATE GET HER START?
Kate is famous for being the first American and first woman to become the 2014 Bols Bartending World Champion for her drink Brown Chicken Brown Cacao along with her appearances on Bar Rescue. A former instructor at the Cordon Bleu in Arizona as well as the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, Kate began her career in wine as a sommelier and moved to cocktails. “I opened a restaurant and did wine pairings, but cocktails are more creative.” She had been winning speed and other championships for years before beginningher new venture in consulting. “I love hitting smaller markets. There are craft cocktails on every corner in New York or L.A. But in a smaller market like this one, we’re really reaching more people. This is where the craft cocktail scene. She pointed out that there was a time bartenders made huge salaries,and were seen as men and women of great responsibility and ability. “Bartenders used to make more than the President of theUnited States.” Over the years, the imageof the bartender has dipped, but even that is changing again. The career bartender is coming back in a big way, and respect for the craft returned.
HOW DID RUSSELL GET INTO MIXOLOGY?
Davis fell in love with the art of mixology when he saw the movie, “Cocktail,” in high school. “I built a bar in my college dorm room, and I got in trouble with my R.A. for all the bottles I dropped practicing moves.” He has worked security, back bar, and bartended for years, and is known for his fire-breathing, bottle-tossing antics. “You gotta be good at three things,” Davis said, “You gotta be fast, you gotta be good, and you gotta look good doing it. There is a new standard for bartending, and it isn’t enough to just do the tricks. You have to make sure the drinks are good. You have to make sure the service is good. It all works together.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THEM BOTH?
Gerwin plans to keep competing, running her bars in North Dakota and New Mexico, and to keep consulting with Davis in smaller markets with occasional visits to Bar Rescue. Davis continues his passion for bar and cocktail consulting with his company Unlimited Liabilities and has so many projects in the works, it’s hard to keep up with his list. Some of them can’t be mentioned just yet, but one that we can tell you about is Davis is on a team working with NASA to create the first cocktail for passenger space travel. The Zero-Gravity Cocktail Project — sponsored by the Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation — is working on special equipment for building, mixing, shaking and stirring in zero-gravity conditions.