Port and Tonic: A Recipe for Perfect Portonics

How to Make the Perfect Port Tonic

Is it a Port Tonic, a Portonic or even a P&T? The name varies, but the basic ingredients don’t. Port wine mixed with a tonic to create a cocktail that’s been exploding with popularity. During our most recent summer in Portugal, we saw them listed on many bar menus, blackboards, and even included in a few happy hours. We tasted more than our fair share and can confirm they’re refreshing in the summer heat, but also a perfect for an aperitif on a chilly evening. So, how to make a perfect Port and tonic? Read on to find out!

A Quick Introduction to Port Wine (Vinho do Porto) and Tonic (Água Tônica)

The first ingredient is Port Wine which is a type of fortified wine from the Douro region in Portugal. Being fortified means that during the ‘fermenting’ process it is enhanced with a grape alcohol similar to brandy. This means it contains more sugar than wine and reaches a higher alcohol content. Port – there’s no need to refer to it as Port Wine in Portugal – is widely available in various forms. These forms differ in age, colour and sweetness, with the most famous being the Ruby Port and the Tawny Port. When it comes to portonic though, the classic recipe is to use a white Port.

In simple terms, tonic water is a carbonated water infused with quinine. Often for flavour, a sweetener like sugar or fruit acids are added. The higher the level of quinine in the water, the more bitter it tastes. Quinine comes from the bark of the cinchona tree, which is native to South America. Modern varieties of tonic add in further complimentary herbs, spices and fruit flavours.

The Classic White Portonic

Traditionally white port is the ingredient of a Port Tonic, but as you’ll see other varieties of ports are used. We’ll start with most common though, the white portonic. White port has the sweetness of a ruby port without as much of the body. It’s much lighter and fresher, and often with fruit notes like apricot or peach. Similarly, to ruby ports, it will still feature aged fruit or marmalade notes.  White port comes in a variety of sweetness ranging from Doce (Sweet) to Seco (Dry). In between you have Meio Doce (half sweet), and at the other end is Extra Seco (very dry). So let’s go to the most important part! The recipe!

White Port Tonic

Classic White Port Tonic Recipe

Ingredients

  • Lots of ice
  • White Port (we’re fans of a dry white port like Offley)
  • A good tonic like Fever Tree, Nordic, 1724, etc.
  • A slice of lemon to garnish

Instructions

  • Fill the glass half full with ice
  • Add 1 part port
  • Add 2 parts tonic
  • Stir well until mixed
  • Add a slice of lemon to garnish

The Rosé Port and Tonic

Rosé Port is a relatively new variety of port that’s only been around for couple of years. It’s a variety of port that could be described as lighter than a ruby port while still retaining red fruit flavours. Whereas a white Port offers the sweetness of a ruby while being light and retaining the aged fruit and honey flavours. Rosé port offers a similar lightness but with a stronger essence of fruit flavours instead of honey and dates. With fruit flavours like strawberries and raspberries, and this light and sweet nature, they pair very well with the bitterness of tonics. This produces a very refreshing and easy drinkable cocktail, that we like to pair with red fruit and fresh sliced lemon in the glass.

Rose Port Tonic

Rosé Portonic Recipe

Ingredients

  • Lots of ice
  • Rosé Port (We’re a fan of Crofts Pink)
  • A good tonic like Fever Tree, Nordic, 1724, etc.
  • A slice of lemon and strawberry to garnish

Instructions

  • Fill the glass half full with ice
  • Add 1 part rosé port
  • Add 2 parts tonic
  • Stir well until mixed
  • Add a slice of lemon and the slice of strawberry to garnish

The Alternative – Ruby Port Tonic  

Our first foray into Port and Tonic was actually with a Ruby Port. Although this is perhaps the least common you’ll find. Ruby ports are considerably stronger in flavour, with a much heavier body than either of the above varieties of port. When mixed with tonic it results in a deep red or purple-ish drink that’s very sweet and more like a sangria based on red wine. Depending on the ruby port you choose, you’ll also get the rich flavours of red fruits like blackcurrants, cherries and blackberries. We’re a fan of using a full bodied and fruity ruby ports that really enhance the red fruit flavour.

Ruby Portonic

Ruby Portonic Recipe

Ingredients

  • Lots of ice
  • Ruby Port ( Something like a Taylors First Estate or Crofts Platinum)
  • A good tonic like Fever Tree, Nordic, 1724, etc.
  • A slice of orange to garnish

Instructions

  • Fill the glass half full with ice
  • Add 1 part port
  • Add 2 parts tonic
  • Stir well until mixed
  • Add a slice of orange to garnish

Let us know in the comments what you think of a port and tonic! Or if you have your own way of making them!

Leave a Comment