Drink insider invites you behind the bar to get to know some of Little Rock’s biggest names in brewing, distilling, and bartending. We ask all the awkward questions you were always afraid to ask your favorite drink maker. This time up, we chat with Sarah Harrington of South on Main.
Where are you from?
I grew up in North Little Rock, so I’ve lived here my whole life. My older brother’s girlfriend was a craft cocktail bartender down in New Orleans and she has been in the scene for the last decade or so, and she opened up a bar a couple years ago, and she was a really big inspiration. I was working at Big Orange West at the time as a server and I expressed some interest to Lee Edwards and he finally gave me a shot.
How long have you been at South on Main and how do you like the working environment?
Well I started coming in whenever I worked at Big Orange, so for about a year I was coming in on call, trying to get my foot in the door. And then whenever Keegan Sparks went to O’Looney’s then David offered me full time here. I just love working here! I love that we do live music, I think it’s really fun. I have more opportunity for creativity back here.
How is it working with David Burnette?
It’s awesome, he’s great, I’ve learned a lot working with him which was one of the things I was the most excited about, coming here because he’s friends with my brother’s girlfriend who initially inspired me to start bartending. She told me, “you need to go work with Dave.” So for me that was a pretty big deal because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to work here. I’ve come a long way!
What do you think about local progress in terms of local cocktails and beverages?
I think even within the last couple years, it’s definitely progressed a lot. There’s a lot more restaurants that are interested in doing craft cocktails!
Speaking of drinks, what spirits do you like to work with?
Definitely rum. …I love working with rum, it’s something I’ve been playing around with a lot lately.
Do you have any particular drinks or specials you make or are excited about?
My most recent one that I did last week, actually. There’s this product that we have called Matifoc, and it’s an oxidized wine. They take the wine and they bake it in the sun in the bottle, so it’s oxidized, it tastes kind of similar to sherry. But I thought it would be funny to create a drink called Matifoc You Up, because one of the things I did see when I was in Austin, in one of the seminars I attended was they were talking about naming their cocktails and how some of them can include humor, and I don’t think that’s something that we do here very much, but I think it would be fun if we did.
Do you have any big dreams for the future?
Definitely want to further my education, there are a few different certifications I’m looking into. … I’m not extremely into beer but to have that knowledge would definitely be beneficial. If I were to create a bar program one day when David’s done here, it would be nice to be really well rounded in all areas to be able to develop that.
Where do you like to eat and drink locally? Also what do you do in your spare time?
I really love to go to Big Orange because they make good cocktails and I’m really good friends with all the bartenders there. Big Orange Midtown is probably my favorite cocktail bar besides here. I really like what Gene’s doing at The Pantry too, so I go to The Pantry a lot as well as Ciao Bacci. I like to read a lot, and then me and my little girl we just hang out!
What do you think we’re lacking in our local scene?
I think we could use more cocktail bars. I think it would be really cool if we had a cocktail-focused bar, and I think someone could pull it off.
If you could travel anywhere for a cocktail, where would you go?
I definitely want to go to California, my family’s from Napa, so I haven’t been there since I’ve been of age to go to all the vineyards. … Oklahoma City and Tulsa – there’s definitely a lot of stuff going on in the cocktail scene there.