Sunny Point Cafe’s ‘libation engineer’

MAGIC IN THE MIX: Noah Hermanson launched Sunny Point Café's bar program in January with a focus on handcrafted cocktails. Photo by Jane Morrell

Asheville Wine & Food Festival cocktail competition finalist Noah Hermanson has his own title for what he does behind the bar at the Sunny Point Café: “I’m not the bar manager,” Hermanson says. “I am the creativity behind the whole drink program. My title that I updated for myself is ‘libation engineer.’”

Sunny Point Café in West Asheville is known for its breakfast and brunch menu, but thanks to Hermanson and his staff, customers have more than comfort food to look forward to.

“My love for the cocktail comes from my passion for food,” Hermanson says about running the café’s bar. “And for me, the way I set the bar up is more like a chef than most traditional bartenders. I start with fresh ingredients, and I make everything from scratch.”

An Asheville resident for 15 years, Hermanson has been with Sunny Point Café for a little over a year. Since his arrival, he has created the new bar program, obtained a liquor license for the restaurant and helped with remodeling that allows room for his and his staff’s creative style of mixing drinks.

Hermanson says that before the new bar launched in January, the café had no liquor, but he was still experimenting with wine and sake cocktails. ” I first worked on the wine list and got the megamosas (extra-large mimosas) straight. And then in January — after our addition to the bar here — we brought in liquor, so that enabled us to do bloody Marys, of course, not sake bloody Marys, and then the rest of the drink program [came] with that. [And] since then we’ve been revamping all parts of our bar program.”

The café crew is working on developing the outside waiting area, installing lighting and working on more comfortable seating for customers, he adds.

Hermanson says the café also has been developing an “enticing incentive” that allows people to come and have a drink between 3 and 6 p.m. with “free nibbles” when they buy an alcoholic beverage. “This is the traditional way tapas are served in Spain,” Hermanson says. “We think people will fall in love with this concept.”

The 2015 Asheville Wine & Food Festival was Hermanson’s third time competing in the event. His winning drinks included two of Sunny Point’s Café’s specialty drinks — the spicy bloody Mary and the Moscow mule — and three of his new concoctions: Red Rhu-str (Rooster), Mountain Medley and Hot Chihuahua (which was called the Odd Couple at the competition).

This year, instead of a panel of judges, drinks were voted on by the audience. Hermanson says he enjoyed this approach. “When there are judges involved, there is a lot of impressing the judges that’s needed. So drinks have to be weird. They have to have those ‘cool’ ingredients, or there has to be something about the drink that’s different to impress them. It’s almost like a competition to be different, and it takes away from what we’re really trying to do, which is to make a good-tasting cocktail.”

In August, Hermanson will be competing in ELIXIR, the festival’s competition finals. The public will again be judging the entries.

He mentions an upcoming event: Sunny Point Café will partner with Wedge Brewing Co. on Thursday, May 28, for an Asheville Beer Week dinner. Hermanson invites everyone to join them. Tickets are $60 per person with seatings at 6 and 8 p.m.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jane Morrell
My name is Jane Morrell and I am a student from Troy University in Alabama. I am working as an intern for the Mountain Xpress over the summer. Follow me on Twitter @JaneMorrell2 Follow me @JaneMorrell2

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Sunny Point Cafe’s ‘libation engineer’

    • Jeremy Rae Elliott

      Hell yeah Noah!!!! You can’t keep a chef out of the kitchen! You get it buddy.

  1. Lan Sluder

    We love Sunny Point, and I like the cocktails I’ve tasted. The one with gin, grapefruit juice and some other ingredients was surprisingly tasty and refreshing. I still don’t understand, though, why customers are limited to only the eight or so specialty cocktails on the menu that day or week or month (or however often they are changed). You can’t, for example, just order a classic gin & tonic or a bourbon and branch. Creative cocktails have their place, but IMO it’s as part of a full bar, or at least a fuller bar.

  2. J T Sutton

    We ate lunch today and it was great.

    However the Bloody Marys were undoubtedly the best we have had.

    We live in Morehead City and only come occasionally.

    Would you please send me the recipe for your Bloody Mary mix.


Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.