Burlington, Vermont takes on a whole new character at night…
A first glance at Burlington, Vermont and you might not think of it as a Brockmans town. Its quirky, colourful downtown features tea rooms, coffee shops that double as art galleries, centres for herbal medicine, and quite a few places to eat artisanal pancakes. But stay until it gets dark, wander down an alley or two, peek into a storefront that looks closed, or step into that bar covered in vintage lamps, and the city starts to reveal a bit of itself that the tourist catalogues won’t.
It is one such night, and we have wandered down a nondescript alley, whose only inviting element is a few string lights that suggest there is something here for us. At the end of the alley, just to the right, is Bangkok Bistro, a Thai restaurant and cocktail bar housed in a structure that juts out from its adjoining building into the aforementioned alley. Inside are more string lights, delicious smells, an extensive bar, and Bobby Chompupang—bar manager, co-owner, and son of the residing chef.
“I like the fact that we’re not generic here,” Bobby tells us, setting up his bar for the night. “People come here all the time and say to me, ‘Oh, you’re not Vermont at all.’ I grew up here and I live here, but I don’t feel like I’m just Vermont either. I like to think I’m a little more out there than the 50 IPAs that Burlington has to offer.” He laughs.
Bobby, in fact, is being humble. As he tells us his story—which takes him from New York City, to Vermont, to Thailand, to Boston, and back to Vermont—he reveals an extensive career working in spirits, entering cocktail competitions, managing bars, throwing parties, and opening restaurants. He grew up in the industry, and earned a lot of his earliest experiences working for his parents at the original location of Bangkok Bistro, which was street-facing and in the center of town.
“When I was learning how to bartend, at the original location, it was the prime of the Sex and the City cocktail craze. We had about seven different cosmos, and about 40 different martinis—dirty martinis, chocolate martinis, appletinis. It was there I started to build my following, before I left Burlington and went out into the world.”
Several adventures, jobs, and restaurant openings later, he decided to come back to his roots, and reopen Bangkok Bistro with his parents in its current location. While the Thai food is traditional, the bar is not, and that’s exactly how Bobby likes it.
“It’s weird, but people in Burlington are sometimes afraid to drink craft cocktails, because they don’t want to seem pretentious. Everyone here is so chill, liberal, down to earth, grassy. But I’m not afraid to be extra, and I’m going to give you an experience when I make you a drink. So people come here expecting that from me. They know I’m going to make a big scene.”
by Bobby Chompupang
- 2 oz/60 ml Brockmans Gin
- .75 oz/20 ml lime juice
- .75 oz/20 ml hibiscus syrup
- 1 egg white
- hibiscus flower
- Add all ingredients except the hibiscus flower into a shaker.
- Dry shake (without ice) vigourously, for about 20 seconds.
- Add ice and shake vigourously again, until the shaker is cold.
- Place your hibiscus flower at the bottom of a chilled champagne flute.
- Double strain your cocktail over the flower into the flute, and flame the oils from a lemon zest over the drink.