Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we venture to Vermont, where we’ll cozy up to the fire and watch the leaves change in awe. The more to the Green Mountain State than that, though, so let’s start exploring:
Motto: “Freedom and Unity” – I can’t hear the word ‘unity’ and not think about Dave Chappelle’s Rick James skit, all these years later.
Food: In Vermont, it’s all about Maple Syrup, given the state produces the most in the country. One popular way to serve it is called Sugar on Snow, which calls for Maple Syrup to be boiled and poured on fresh snow. This causes it to harden, so it can be eaten with a fork. Interestingly, it’s served with a donut and dill pickle on the side. The Vermont Maple Festival annually celebrates all things Maple Syrup.
Drink: Switchel (aka haymaker’s punch) is a mix of water, vinegar, ginger and a sweetener, with the additions of maple syrup and lemon juice in Vermont. While the drink is said to have originated in the Caribbean, it became a popular summer beverage in the American Colonies and Vermont’s own spin on the recipe kind of makes it their own.
Site to See: Vermont is home to a number of ski resorts, both for downhill and cross-country recreation. There’s also the Green Mountain National Forest, which is called the backbone of the state and is the source of its nickname. Among the forest’s attractions are three nationally designated trails, the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Robert Frost National Recreation Trail.
Street: Another top destination in the state is the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington. The four-block pedestrian shopping and dining area was built between 1980-1981 and is host to some of the state’s annual festivals. Chain stores and local retailers make up the businesses along the route. Some of the buildings on Church Street have historic significance.
TV Show: Newhart, starring Bob Newhart as the owner of a rural Vermont inn, ran for eight seasons and 184 episodes. The show may be best remembered for its series finale, which had Newhart wake up on the set of his previous TV show, The Bob Newhart Show, describing his dream of being an innkeeper in Vermont, surrounded by odd characters, to his wife from that series.
Movie: Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams, is a drama about an English teacher who inspires his students through unconventional means at a fictional boy’s boarding school in Vermont. The film was nominated for Best Actor, Director and Picture Oscars, as well as winning for Best Original Screenplay. “O Captain! My Captain!”
Book/Author: Children’s novel Pollyanna is set in the fictional Beldingsville. The story follows the ever-optimistic Pollyanna, an orphan who’s being sent to live with her unaffectionate aunt in an unfamiliar setting. The book was later adapted into a popular Disney live action film, starring Haley Mills, who won a Juvenile Oscar for portraying the young girl.
Fictional Character: I found some conflicting evidence, but a number of sources say Jack and Danny Torrance, the father and son from The Shining, both spent time living in Vermont. At the start of The Shining, the family is moving from Vermont to Colorado to be caretakers of the Overlook Hotel. Years later, in the sequel Doctor Sleep, Danny is middle-aged and back in Vermont.
Fictional City: I love both of the Super Troopers movies, which take place in the town of Spurbury. The movies star members of the Broken Lizard comedy group and while they may not be geared towards film critics, those like the Sip Advisor can enjoy a few beverages while watching and laughing so much it hurts. Hopefully these Vermont state troopers can return for a third assignment.
Actor/Actress: Damon Wayans Jr., star of TV shows such as New Girl and Happy Endings, as well as films including Let’s Be Cops and Big Hero 6, was born in Huntington. He is the son of Damon Wayans Sr. and nephew of Keenan Ivory Wayans, who created the sketch comedy show In Living Color, which featured many Wayans family members. Today, Wayans Jr. is still busy with projects.
Song: Moonlight in Vermont was written by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, and first recorded by Margaret Whiting in 1944. The most recognized version is by Frank Sinatra, which was popular with soldiers during World War II, reminding them of home. It is the unofficial state song of Vermont and is often played for the first dance at wedding receptions there.
Band/Musician: Phish was formed in Burlington in 1983. The rock band is best known for their improvisation and blending of musical styles in extended jams. They have a die-hard fan base, similar to the Grateful Dead, who inspired Phish. The band once performed in a hotdog-shaped float, which was donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and hung in the museum’s lobby.
People: There are some interesting candidates for this category. First, political activist Jody Williams was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ban and clear landmines around the world. There’s also Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.), who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, helping countless people overcome their alcohol addictions.
Animal: Since 2019, the town of Fair Haven has elected its mayor by allowing pets to run for the one-year term position. The first mayor was a goat named Lincoln, followed by therapy dog Murfee in 2020. The honourary position was started to raise money for school playground equipment, but it also encouraged kids – who are allowed to vote – to engage in local politics.
Invention: John Deere, founder of Deere & Company, was born in Rutland. In 1837, Deere, a blacksmith, revolutionized the farming industry, inventing the first commercially successful steel plow, known as ‘The Plow that Broke the Plains’. The achievement is noted on a marker in Middlebury, outside the shop Deere learned the blacksmith trade.
Crime: Israel Keyes murdered at least three people, with at least another eight possible victims, across the country. Two of his confirmed killings were in Vermont, where he broke into the home of Bill and Lorraine Currier, slaying both and sexually assaulting Lorraine. Their bodies were never found. Keyes committed suicide while in jail, awaiting trial for a murder in Alaska.
Law: In Vermont, it is illegal to strip naked in public, but if you leave your house already in the nude, that’s okay. You just have to be mindful of where the nudity originated!
Sports Team: With no professional teams in the state, Vermont’s greatest contribution to the sports landscape may have come from Jake Burton Carpenter, inventor of the snowboard. Improving on the Snurfer, a toy that allowed people to surf in the snow, Carpenter not only developed the snowboard, but also the sport and culture around it. Sadly, Carpenter passed away in 2019 from cancer.
Athlete: Baseball catcher Carlton Fisk was born in Bellows Falls. At the time of his retirement, following 24 seasons of play, Fisk held the record for home runs by a catcher, with 351. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. Also deserving of mention is alpine skier Andrea Mead Lawrence, who at the 1952 Winter Olympics, won two gold medals.
Famous Home: Hildene, located in Manchester Center, was the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln. The sprawling estate was home to descendants of the Lincoln family until 1975. Today, it can be toured, featuring spectacular gardens and a working observatory. The home also offers a museum, with items belonging to the Lincolns.
Urban Legend: The Bennington Triangle is an area of Vermont, where five people vanished between 1945-1950. Theories on the disappearances include a serial killer, extreme weather, UFO abductions and a sasquatch-like monster. Speaking of monsters, Lake Champlain is said to be inhabited by a sea serpent named Champ, a legend which has been embraced by Vermonters.
Museum: The Snowflake Bentley Museum can be found in Jericho, near the historic home of Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley. Fascinated by snowflakes as a teen, Bentley developed a way to photograph them, amassing a collection of over 5,000 images… and no two are alike. The children’s book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, was written about Bentley and his snowflakes.
Firsts: Some big firsts have occurred in Vermont, including being the first state to abolish slavery, grant women partial voting rights and make same-sex ‘civil unions’ legal. Vermont also minted the first penny and created the first postage stamp in the country. Lastly, a Vermont resident received the first Social Security check, when Ida May Fuller retired in 1939. She lived to 100 years old and received $22,888.92.
Company: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is headquartered in South Burlington. Childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded the business in 1978, with their first store operating out of a renovated gas station. Today, Ben & Jerry’s products – and many interesting flavours – can be found around the world. The Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury is a top tourist attraction, including its Flavor Graveyard.
Events: Rebel victories in Vermont at the outset of the Revolutionary War gained momentum for the movement, encouraging others to join and fight for independence from the British. When all was said and done, Vermont was the first state admitted to the United States after the original 13 colonies, becoming the 14th state in 1791.
Miscellaneous: I had never heard of a witch window, until doing my research for this article. They are so common in Vermont, they are even sometimes called Vermont windows. They are diagonal windows, designed with the theory that witches on brooms can’t fly through tilted windows. Another explanation is the windows helped with removing coffins from second floors.
- 1.5 oz Gin
- Splash of Orange Juice
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Dash of Maple Syrup
- Dash of Angostura Bitters
- Garnish with a Lemon Slice
This cocktail highlights Vermont’s mastery of maple syrup, with its inclusion in the recipe. The martini has unknown origins, but has become popular in recent times thanks to being featured on chef Bobby Flay’s TV show Brunch At Bobby’s.