Pretty Things, a cocktail created by Ashley Danford of The Fix, was the favorite among judges at the recent Bartender Brawl.
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Ashley Danford

Bartenders from watering holes throughout the Scenic City recently showed their mettle in Miller Plaza by entering their creative cocktail recipes in Chattanooga Friends' third annual Bartender Brawl.

Each bar was required to serve two unique recipes: one using Chattanooga Whiskey and the other with Tito's Handmade Vodka from Athens Distributing, says Jeremy Henderson, creative project manager for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, which helped organize the event. The United States Bartenders' Guild provided judges for the competition, for which each bar had to pick one of its two cocktails to be entered.

St. John's picked up the People's Choice honor by getting the most votes from attendees, while Ashley Danford, representing The Fix, won the judged competition with her boozy creation Pretty Things.

She says her goal was to create a clean, refreshing cocktail that anyone could enjoy with a side of fun in the sun.

"I love infusing vodka with different fruits, especially in the spring and summertime," says Danford. The competition's judges clearly loved the fruits of her labor, judging not only from her win, but the multiple times that evening she says they re-ordered the concoction. "I feel like the juice, Aperol and vodka make this drink pretty approachable while the tonic syrup and Aperol sugar/salt rim give the drink an added layer of depth. This drink definitely pairs best with the sun, a patio and close friends. If you're looking for something refreshing and light, this is the drink for you."

Proceeds from the Bartender Brawl benefit Northside Neighborhood House, Siskin Children's Institute, Little Miss Mag and Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga.

Pretty Things


1 liter Tito’s Handmade Vodka

1 pint strawberries

1/2 cup and 3/4 ounce Aperol

1/2 ounce lemon

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters

1/2 dropper’s worth of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. tonic syrup


Wash strawberries, cut off stems and then cut berries into twos or fours.

Combine with vodka and let sit for a couple of days to make strawberry-infused vodka

Take 1/2 cup Aperol and heat over stove until it reduces to a syrup.

Combine with simple syrup, then rehydrate back to solid in a dehydrator or oven (lowest temp on oven) for Aperol-infused sugar.

Combine 1 ½ ounces strawberry-infused vodka with other ingredients and shake with ice.

Strain over fresh ice in a glass with Aperol-infused sugar and salt rim.

Garnish with a fun cocktail umbrella (a lemon wheel also works in a pinch).