Life Life

28/02/2020 - 07:40

Bun bo Hue … Cocktail

It combines the rich taste of the wine, a little bit of sourness of lemon juice, the aroma of coriander, the spicy of chili, the fragrance of lemongrass, and, especially the taste of ruoc (Hue shrimp paste). This new cocktail, with a unique name and flavor, is brought to the bar by a young bartender from Hue city.

Passion is what led Nguyen Thanh Chanh to the creation of such a unique cocktail


Bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodle) cocktail, that is the name of this special drink. This is an invention by the bartender Nguyen Thanh Chanh, born in 1993.

To be a bartender is not easy. First, the bartenders must know about hundreds, or even thousands kinds of wines and aromatic ingredients by their tasting and smelling. They not only have to master diverse mixing tools but also need to know how to excite the customers over the bar by showing fantastic shaking and stirring skills like flair (juggling and doing magic with mixing tools).

Having tied the knot with bartending for more than 6 years, Nguyen Thanh Chanh has made great efforts to sustain his career in Hue. Constant practice, suffering from injuries and burns, and having his blood mixed in sweat and tears – all this hardship was not enough to stop him. That great passion has helped the young bartender foster his creativity over the usual and helped him thrive in his own horizon.

Inspired by the idea of fusing a new drink that features the taste of a son of Hue, Thanh Chanh said: “I wanted to create a unique, regional drink that can only be linked to Hue. A lot of ideas were stirring in my mind, like me xung (sesame candy) cocktail or com hen (clam rice) cocktail. But finally, I chose to eye on the Bun bo Hue cocktail”.

Bun bo Hue is a unique food in the ancient capital’s culinary. It is well known for its robust well-stewed bone broth and multiple extraordinary ingredients, and, especially with the use of shrimp paste. It was quite challenging for Nguyen Thanh Chanh in his way to the perfect recipe for this cocktail. For, on top of exploring the right ingredients, the bartender has to make sure his mixing gears for each cocktail should go in a cohesive set, not to mention the struggling of finding the right way of mixing and calibrating ingredients to build up a delicious cocktail.


The ingredients of a Bun bo Hue cocktail include the made-in-Phu Loc sticky rice wine (main base), Cointreau, lemon juice, ginger syrup, lemongrass syrup, coriander, chili, and an extremely exceptional spice - ruoc Hue (Hue shrimp paste).

The special cocktail with a great aftertaste

The young bartender said: “The aroma blended within the natural sweetness of young glutinous rice will help create a smooth, greasy taste for the cocktail. As for ruoc, I have found my own secret to handle the taste to make sure its taste would not be so rich”. Not only "transforming" ruoc, Nguyen Thanh Chanh also makes lemongrass syrup and ginger syrup on his own in order to craft this cocktail in the most satisfactory way.

A special feature of the Bun bo Hue cocktail is the way of serving. Instead of seeing it in a luxurious glass, customers will be presented with a bowl of cocktail garnished with coriander and lemon. Upon opening the mysterious cover, one would be immediately amazed by the steam that fills him/her up with a rich lemongrass aroma. This lures ones into a scene where they are dining at a crowded restaurant and being served a hot bowl of hot, steamy Hue beef noodle.

Then, the drink should be consumed using a lemongrass straw (this is also an invention by connecting the lemongrass stems into a straw, which makes this drink not only ecologically friendly but also more flavorful and delicate). Upon the contact, there would be a burning taste of Hue beef noodle happening at the tip of the tongue, then it gradually spreads out, treating ones a feast of flavors - fragrant, rich, smooth and totally unique.

In the Vinpearl Idol 2019 contest, Nguyen Thanh Chanh's Bun bo Hue cocktail won the second prize. And now, this special cocktail is being widely served right at the bar. Chanh shared: “I am very happy to have made a cocktail that carries my homeland’s signature. The beauty of it is to showcase the taste of a specialty food in the form of a drink. This is a different way to enjoy Hue specialties, which can be called a tour by touch and taste”.

There have been many cocktails inspired by food, namely Pho cocktail, snail-dipped-in-fish sauce cocktail or pizza cocktail… Each of them carries the culinary culture values of each region and serving as an "ambassador" besides the traditional food and drinks. Nothing is more fabulous than seeing the visitors or Hue people engage themselves into such a unique drink that embodies the mark of this ancient capital so well.

In this land, from the hat, the local artists have created the poem conical hats, lotus leaf conical hats, or leaf venation conical hats. And now, from Bun bo Hue, the Bun bo Hue cocktail was born. This is the spirit of Hue – the mysterious ancient capital, where its citizens highly value the beauty of the homeland and always try to cherish, preserve, and develop its quintessence so that it will never fade away.

Article by Mai Hue

Photos provided by the character