When she was at the top of her game, rapper Eve called dibs on the title “Pitbull in a Skirt.” Now Jackson’s own Ashley Lewis can lay claim to the top “Bulldog in a Skirt,” only she’s serving up drinks instead of rhymes. Voted Sexiest Bartender in 2015 Best of Jackson contest, Lewis has been ferociously mixing up drinks that have kept customers coming back to The Bulldog (6111 Ridgewood Road) for the past three years.
(A version of this article first appeared in Boom Jackson on May 1, 2015)
Lewis grew up in Oxford, Miss., and 16 years ago moved with her family to Clinton where she attended Clinton High School. “I was born in Texas but I’ve been in Mississippi my whole life pretty much.” She attended Mississippi State College, walking away just two semesters shy of a bachelor’s degree in history. The then newly divorced mom swapped school for work to support her daughter, Phoebe, now six years old.
Two months after opening the restaurant opened about six years ago, Lewis went to work at Burgers and Blues. She rose quickly, going from server to managing bartender within eight months. In the middle of it all Lewis, who has an immune disorder, was diagnosed with a rare form of alopecia. As a result she lost all of her hair which started growing back only two years ago.
Upon returning to Jackson after a brief move to Hattiesburg, an August night out with friends in 2012 put Lewis in the right place at the right time. “I was at the bulldog with some friends and I began talking to Val (Valerie Alexander), the general manager. They were about to lose a girl bartender and needed a replacement. The rest is history,” she says.
One of her favorite specialties she’s created over her seven years as a bartender is the firecracker, which has ingredients including muddled jalapenos and strawberries, and bourbon. For those who are hesitant to drink something with jalapenos, Lewis says that they are more of an aftertaste.
“We make a lot of hot drinks in the winter so when summer comes around we get a lot more requests for citrusy drinks,” Lewis says. She adds that they sell a lot more margaritas, flavored martinis, fruity punches and lemon shandys when the weather warms up.
Lewis reveals her secret to mixing the perfect drink. “Not skimming on anything (including garnishes) makes quality drinks,” she says.
She also offers some other bartending tips that apply to anyone in the service industry, techniques she uses on her second job as manager of Majestic Burger. Smile and be friendly, learn how to read people so that you know how to interact with them. And don’t be afraid to joke with people, joking around breaks the ice and gives the customer permission to have fun with you.