Porto tónicos have been on the verge being an “it” drink the past few years, but 2019 could be its breakthrough.
James Beard Award-winning sommelier Belinda Chang sees big things in porto tónicos, mostly because she loves them herself. The drink, a combination of white port and tonic water, is a common occurrence throughout Portugal. White port’s profile lends itself well to be a replacement for gin as tonic’s partner as we all long for sweltering weather.
“I have been obsessed with porto tónicos for a few years now and my obsession entered into turbo after I visited Portugal last year and we drank at least three apiece every afternoon,” Chang says.
Since returning home, Chang, who hosts events and parties across the country, has started serving porto tónicos at every soiree she throws because of their ease, beauty, and elegance.
Chang suggests spicing them up with a variety of tonics, edible flowers, bowls of berries and sliced citrus, and tall glasses. She also uses pebble ice whenever possible in a one-to-one port to tonic ratio.
White ports are the classic for porto tónicos, but like every cocktail now, the drink has been expanded to include pretty much every variety of the fortified wine. Tonic water is certainly one of the best and most versatile mixers when it comes to clear spirits, but its uses go far beyond the simplicity most are familiar with. As tonics continue to diversify with a variety of expressions, the category’s versatility is further opened.
Chang shared her favorite porto tónicos pairings with The Manual. But first, the recipe:
The Perfect Porto Tónico Recipe
- 2 oz white port
- 4 oz tonic water
- Desired garnish
Method: Add ingredients to a Collins glass with pebble ice. Stir and garnish.
Recommended White Port and Tonic Pairings
Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry + Tomr’s Tonic
Fonseca Siroco Extra Dry + Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic
Pair Fonseca Siroco Extra Dry with Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic and pack it with raspberries and strawberries, stirred with a cinnamon stick. Chang says the package brings out the brown spices in the port.
Warre’s Fine Wine + Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic
For a super floral port, Chang suggests pairing Warre’s Fine Wine with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic (or other floral tonics) garnished with lemon thyme or purple shiso and edible flowers like hibiscus.
Ramos Pinto Fine White + Fentiman’s Valencia Orange Tonic
Niepoort Dry White + Fentiman’s Oriental Yuzu Tonic
Aged longer than the others on the list, Niepoort Dry White is filled with bright citrus notes and goes best with Fenitman’s Oriental Yuzu or other citrus-spiked tonics. Garnished with a sprig of rosemary adds a nice finishing touch.
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