I’ve been given the somewhat daunting task of creating custom cocktails inspired by the SFA staff. This week’s focus is on Sara Wood, the SFA’s oral historian. Each staff member was given a cocktail questionnaire to fill out, full of idiosyncratic questions that were coded in such a way to determine their palate and personality. Sara has Midwestern roots, and has lived on both coasts (Brooklyn and San Francisco) before moving South to join the SFA. She’s one of the warmest and most kind-hearted people you will ever meet, which is probably why she excels at listening to people’s stories and sharing them with the world. She’s also a hoot. I knew the drink needed bubbles (since she likes fizz), and a cherry aspect, as her home state Michigan produces around 70 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States. Thyme is infused into the cherry syrup because Sara is very giving of her time, natch, and it’s also a nod to her penchant for nature walks. Her questionnaire and recipe are below.
“She’s Our Cherry Pie”
- 3 oz. Prosecco
- 1 oz. thyme-infused honey-cherry syrup*
- 1 pitted cherry
- squeeze of lemon
- thyme sprig for garnish
Spoon cherry syrup into bottom of champagne flute. Top with Prosecco, squeeze of lemon, and garnish with thyme sprig and pitted cherry. Can also be served and stirred over ice if desired.
Honey-Cherry-Thyme Syrup (will have leftovers)
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup filtered water
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 4 cherries, pitted (frozen works well here, too)
Directions: Combine the honey, water, thyme, and cherries in a saucepan over medium heat. Muddle the cherries until smashed. Bring to a boil and reduce immediately to a simmer–stirring until honey is dissolved–about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for one hour. Place the syrup in the fridge until it’s cocktail time.
- Where did you grow up? Muskegon, Michigan
- Your favorite historical figure crush? James Brown
- Favorite musical group from the 50s, 60s or 70s? Anyone who walked into Stax Records.
- Your middle name? Anne
- Would you prefer an elaborate dinner party, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, two-stepping at a country western bar, or reading a book by the fireplace? Two-stepping to the bar, two-stepping at the bar, two-stepping all the way home.
- Dog or cat person? Preferred breed? I’d love a large rescue dog with a big heart and little common sense.
- What do you usually order at the bar? I love things that fizz. I also love a Manhattan.
- What did you drink in college that you will never drink again? Wild Irish Rose.
- Top three favorite films? Nights of Cabiria, Sister Helen, Tommy Boy.
- What’s your favorite eating establishment in existence today? The Hearthstone in Muskegon, MI. And Bertha’s Kitchen in North Charleston, SC.
- What three people—living or dead—would you want to have for company at a small dinner party? Studs Terkel, Vertamae Grosvenor, Richard Simmons.
- Do you have any secret talents? I can play the harmonica while driving, I give the best mediocre wedding speeches, and I can dance.
- Do you have any tattoos? Do you?
- What’s your favorite dessert? Ted Drewes on a summer night in St. Louis.