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October 2, 2023

Local mixologist wins national contest

Yunta’s Ashley Sarkis tops Deep Eddy competition

by Kristen Wile

Ashley Sarkis with her prize money following a win in a Deep Eddy cocktail contest. Photo by Darrin Commerford

Ashley Sarkis of Yunta won a national mixology contest last week, creating a series of cocktails using Deep Eddy Vodka to be crowned the first “Craft the Fun” winner. As one of four finalists in the competition, Sarkis was asked to create an experience that included three drinks at the Deep Eddy distillery in Austin. Sarkis themed her experience around The Alamo Drafthouse, the theater that introduced serving dinner and drinks along with film screenings.

Each of the her drinks was inspired by a Texas-based film. The first, honoring Urban Cowboy, was a beerlini called “Bud and Sissy,” made with Deep Eddy Peach Vodka, a jalapeño syrup, lemon, peach purée, and smoked jalapeño hot sauce topped with Budweiser, served with a tajin rim. Dazed and Confused was represented by a grapefruit cooler using Deep Eddy Ruby Red, Lunazul Humoso, lemon, a homemade CBD syrup, and lemongrass tea served in a mushroom glass garnished with a marijuana leaf-shaped grapefruit rind garnish. The final drink, inspired by The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, used Deep Eddy classic vodka, Bluecoat Gin, Domaine de Canton, lemon, egg white, blackberry, lavender, and Earl Gray tea. The cocktail was named Ed Earl’s Cup of Tea after Burt Reynolds’ character in the film. 

Ashley Sarkis of Yunta won a national contest last week. Photo courtesy

Sarkis’ cocktail experience — which she called Remember the Alamo (Drafthouse) — won her the competition, as well as a $5,000 grand prize. She also earned $1,000 for winning the regional round and $500 for winning the local round. Ahead of the competition, the group of finalists enjoyed a tour around Austin, which included the chance to make custom Stetson hats. Sarkis wore hers for her presentation. With her winnings, Sarkis says she may get tickets to see Pink perform at the Spectrum Center, though she may instead plan a family vacation.

The drink that initially got her into the contest, Sparkling Texas Ruby, is currently on the menu at Yunta, a higher-end Peruvian restaurant from the owners of Viva Chicken. The South Boulevard restaurant serves flavorful ceviche, crudo, sushi, and grilled fare. The cocktail menu leans heavily on pisco to create a cohesive, complementary drink selection. 

Sarkis first won a local competition back in June before being selected to compete in a regional round in Atlanta. One winner from each of four regional rounds competed in Austin, Texas, for the finals.

The contest was paired with a $25,000 donation to The Tutu Project, a nonprofit supporting breast cancer patients. In honor of The Tutu Project, contestants made drinks using Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red. This is the first year of the “Craft the Fun” competition, which took place ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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