As we've all been cooped up at home, you've probably caught up on your reading – or perhaps become a bit of a mixologist. Say you've mastered the classics, but you're looking for something a bit more refreshing and off-the-beaten-path. Port isn't a drink you typically associate with hot weather or late summer, but white port is a different story entirely.
White port's not new or innovative; it's just seldom been drunk outside of its native Portugal. In the Douro Valley, the birthplace of port, generations have been drinking its white iteration for decades.
White ports are produced exactly the same way as reds, but using white grapes (Donzelinho branco, Côdega and Rabigato, among others). They can vary in taste from sweet to dry. Typically, red port is served as a dessert wine, but its white and tawny siblings are more often served as an aperitif.
Enter the port and tonic. Known as Porto Tonico in Portugal, its name may remind you of a similar libation: the G&T. Unlike the G-force of a gin and tonic, however, the P-force of a P&T carries only about half as much alcohol content. White port contains about 20% alcohol, which drops to about 10% once diluted by tonic water. Hence, it makes for longer drinking – and its popularity is soaring.
In taste, white port, not unlike gin, exudes a certain sweetness that combines just as well as its spirited counterpart with the bitterness of the tonic. One proviso is not to overdo the tonic, as the gentler, nutty flavours of the white port are more easily overwhelmed than gin's. For a garnish, Lisbonites typically serve it with ice cubes, mint leaves and lemon or orange, though you could throw in a slice of ginger for additional pizzazz.
So, the next time a Campari, Negroni or Lillet moment presents itself, amaze and intrigue guests and friends with your pre-dinner P&T prowess. As they say in Portugal: Saúde!
How to make the perfect P&T
1. Put ice cubes in a glass.
2. Mix one part white port, two parts tonic.
3. Stir four or five times, then add a twist of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit. (For the adventurous, try a slice of ginger, a sprig of mint or even edible flowers.)
4. For added P-force, try elderflower syrup or liqueur rather than tonic.