Published Date

NEW ORLEANS, LA, May 14, 2018 - The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is excited to announce the 2018 Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) class, sponsored by BarSmarts® and Pernod Ricard USA.


Developed in 2008, the Cocktail Apprentice Program gives 40 accomplished and up-and-coming bartenders the opportunity to learn alongside some of the world’s most respected bartenders and cocktail experts as they work the seminars and large-scale events at Tales. These first-time apprentices will be joined by an experienced group of veteran apprentices, who will use their previous apprentice experience to lead this year’s program. Throughout the festival, apprentices can be identified by the color of their chef coats: white for managers, black for assistant managers, grey for leaders, and red for first-time apprentices.


“BarSmarts and Pernod Ricard are thrilled to have sponsored the Cocktail Apprentice Program at Tales Of The Cocktail since 2014,” said Jamie Gordon, Senior Manager of Brand Advocacy for Pernod Ricard USA. “The CAP has been instrumental in TOTC’s continued success, and we couldn’t be more proud of our relationship with this talented and hardworking team.”


This year’s incoming class of Red Coats hail from 18 states and 10 countries, including Canada, China, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Republic of Korea and U.K. Apprentices were selected through a competitive process that considered recipe submissions, professional experience, and ability to work with a fast-paced, global team. The team was selectively chosen in order to promote global diversity and ensure that a balance exists between newer and more experienced professionals.


“It was really important for us to curate a diverse CAPS class, as representative of cocktail culture on a global scale as possible,” said Neal Bodenheimer, Board Member of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “It is incredibly rewarding to watch first-timers and veterans alike come together, grow, and rise through the ranks in this program. Further to that point, it is humbling to see how their collective global knowledge enriches the Tales experience on the whole.”


By working directly with seminar presenters, program apprentices hone their skills while simultaneously learning about both the history and future of their craft. After the festival, apprentices are able to apply their new skills to their home and work environments, making the experience of being a CAP member a long-term investment. In addition to technical skills, the valuable professional connections and the team camaraderie fostered during the event have been consistently praised by former members as the most valuable assets the program has given them.


“Being a CAP means going back home to your bar community and teaching and helping those around you to enrich that philosophy,” says Jodi Calderon, Black Coat and Bartender at The Normandie Club. “The CAP program is mentorship, friendship, hard work, and hospitality. That’s why I return every year."


After Tales concludes, CAP members will be eligible to apply for the Cocktail Apprentice Scholarship Program. Founded by Tales of the Cocktail, the Scholarship Program has annually helped former apprentices pursue further learning opportunities for the past eight years. After undergoing a rigorous selection process, former apprentices are selected to receive funding for a wide variety of projects, from those designed to further their career to those designed with intent to educate the cocktail community.


“The whole CAP experience has been life changing for me. The mentorship, and the international networking that the program provides is like none other. Being from a very small market in Hawaii (and an even smaller market on my island of Maui), I would have never been exposed to what the CAP program has given me,” says Kaʻai Fong, Grey Coat and bartender at Andaz Maui. “This program is all about mentorship and wanting to learn, so you can take it back to your community and market to help it grow. It’s a global family that will always be a part of my life.”