Mark Vierthaler isn’t exactly sure what he’s signed up for — but knows he will be going.

Vierthaler was recently named one of 40 Red Coat Apprentices for the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail 2017 in New Orleans.

"I’m not sure how much free time I’m going to have," Vierthaler said on Tuesday morning. "I’ve heard there are some days that are from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

"So, I’m guessing there won’t be too much else going on."

Sponsored by Pernod Ricard, 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 the work seminars and large scale events throughout the week-long festival.

"I’m excited, I’m thrilled and I’m scared to death," Vierthaler said about going to the event. "But I’m looking forward to learning everything I can and bringing it back to Dodge City."

Vierthaler is the lead bartender at Boot Hill Distillery as well as at the Depot Theater.

"A lot of these CAPs are from bigger communities," Vierthaler said. "I’m pretty sure I’m the only one from around here or from a community this small."

According to the announcement of the apprentices made by Tales of the Cocktail, the incoming class of Red Coats hails from 19 states and 10 countries, including Kenya, Greece, China, Canada and the Cayman Islands. Apprentices were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants based on recipe submissions, teamwork skills and their level of experience within the industry. The team was selectively chosen in order to promote global diversity and ensure that a balance exists between newer and more experienced professionals.

Vierthaler leaves July 16 and returns July 24. Despite the hard work and learning opportunities, he believes the experience will benefit him and the places he plies his craft.

"We don’t have many chances in Dodge City to really get some training and learn from the best," he said. "I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can and bringing it back.

"I’ll take some swag with me to give away, but I don’t think there’ll be time for marketing or sight-seeing. But, despite the hard work, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I’m looking forward to it."


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