Apprentices, Corey Bunnewith, Eamon Rockey and Eryn Reece prepping a seminar.
I recently received an email in my inbox from Michael Dietsch of A Dash of Bitters and the man running this year’s Tales of the Cocktail Blog Site, www.talesblog.com. He asked if in addition to covering the behind the scenes experience of the Apprentice Program, if I could share some details on the application process behind the apprentice program.
I’m hoping the following helps shed some light on the application process.
The application for this year’s Apprentice Program went live on the Tales of the Cocktail website around February of this year, with notifications of acceptance going out around the beginning of May.
There were several sections of the application that had to be filled out before submission.
Some of these were pretty basic, such as name, work place, home city and whether or not you’ve served as an apprentice the previous year.
After filling out the basics, you moved to questions such as whether or not you’ve ever worked events with more than 500 attendees and have batched cocktails for large groups. And when they say batch, they mean by the bucket load. Think about making 3-5 cocktails, each for about 200 people within 90 minutes of an event starting and then serving these to a room full of people. Once you can wrap your head around this concept, you slowly begin to understand what being an apprentice means. Now think about doing this from 8am to 6pm each night, with nary a time for a break. Think about running around a large-scale hotel between events making sure everything is ready for that next seminar. This coupled with late nights out, is part of what being apprentice is about.That and the bonds and friendships you form with your fellow cap brothers and sisters. People that after pulling an all-nighter and working four out of the five seminars that day will sacrifice, much needed downtime to help you pull off that last seminar of the day.
Jumping back to the application, there are a few more questions involving the aforementioned batching experience, including a math problem. Yes a math problem. A boozy math problem, that begs the question why didn’t our high school math teachers use whisky and gin to demonstrate why we should have been paying attention back when we were still in school? So the math question at hand involved taking one cocktail with a plethora of ingredients in different measurements (ie: ounces, milliliters, and cups) and calculating how many ounces of each you would need to serve a large group of people.
If memory serves the number in question was about two hundred. One suggestion, if you do apply for next years apprentice program, get accepted and also happen to possess an Iphone. purchase an application called Converter . It’ll save you a few headaches since it lets you convert ounces to cups, milliliters to ounces, and everything else in between. But be careful not to drop your Iphone in a vat of whisky cocktails. Disclaimer-To my knowledge no iphones suffered this fate during the week.
After completing this section, you’re asked to submit both your favorite cocktail and an original recipe and explain the inspiration behind how this recipe came to be and why all the ingredients worked in the cocktail.
At this point you’re approaching the end to the submission process, but there are still three more questions. Two of them are yes or no questions- “Would you like to be an apprentice leader? “ and “Would you like to be part of Commis?”
If you answer this first question with “yes” you’ll more than likely be put in charge of running the prep, batching and serving of cocktails and spirits for a few of the seminars. Trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds, as you’ll be working with between 2-4 other caps for the seminar. So trust me it’ll be okay. Once you’ve clicked yes or no on this, the next question is regarding Commis. You’re probably thinking what is a commis exactly? In the culinary world, commis means a chef’s apprentice. And in the world of caps, it mean’s you’ll be one of about five leaders of the group, reporting directly to Don Lee who heads up the CAP Program. These folks have both my respect and my sympathy, while we all busted ourselves in the kitchen day and day out, this group of apprentices that served as commis, were always there when a crisis occurred, most of the time they were there before, able to avert any issues that came up. Whether this was missing ingredients, or a presenter trying to change all the recipes for their seminars two hours before the seminar was to occur. Gents, my hats off to all of you.
And the final question, “How’d you get into Cocktails?” With this last answer, you’re given the opportunity to tell your story, how you arrived at this application in the first place, and demonstrate your passion.
One last step, as with any application, references were needed.
With a few clicks of the keyboard you’re finally done. Time to click the submit button.
Once you click that submit button, it’s all over. You’ve gone ahead and done it. There’s no turning back now, you’ve applied for the Cocktail Apprentice Program. Now comes the waiting. If you’ve just read this and are thinking of applying for the Apprentice program, good luck and hope to see you next year.