Known as a Porto Tonico, white port tonic is a refreshing wine cocktail with twice as much tonic as white port. With the addition of a sprig of mint and an orange wedge, the two main ingredients come together to create a refreshing port drink that rivals the world’s best summer sippers.
Though we first experienced the popular Portuguese cocktail in Porto during our honeymoon, we now drink the summer sipper at Lisbon restaurants and bars. We even found Porto Tonicos at Lisbon’s Time Out Market.
Usually, though, we craft and drink the Port and Tonic cocktails at home. Not only is this port tonic cocktail refreshing to drink, but it’s also super simple to prepare.
What is White Port?
Honeymooning in Porto solidified our passion for ruby and tawny port while introducing us to white port, a lighter version made with white grapes grown in the Douro Valley and fortified with brandy.
Sweet and not too high in alcohol (16.5-20% abv), white port makes for a satisfying after-dinner aperitif. It’s also a fun ingredient to add to Portuguese cocktails.
Winemakers around the world fortify wine with neutral grape spirits but only producers in Portugal’s Douro Valley can call the end result port. Located in the north of the country, this region has been a protected wine region since the 18th century.
Name variations for port include Porto and Vinho do Porto. The Portuguese translation of white port is Porta Branca. No matter what you choose to call it, Portugal’s fortified wine is addictive to people like us who enjoy dessert wine and, in this case, tasty cocktails.
How to Serve White Port and Tonic Cocktails at Home
In Portugal, people drink Porto Tonicos as an aperitif, similar to the way people in Italy drink Aperol spritzes. However, in our opinion, the Portuguese cocktail tastes way better than its slightly bitter Italian counterpart.
Refreshingly simple, this white port cocktail drinks like a daiquiri or other summer sipper. However, you’ll notice similarities to more sophisticated cocktails as you savor the sips.
Mindi likens the flavor to Jack and Ginger. Daryl just enjoys its summery, fresh flavor.
We recommend pairing white port tonics with nibbles like olives and nuts before dinner if you’re entertaining friends. As for us, we typically drink the cocktail while enjoying the view through our Lisbon apartment window.
Port and Tonic Ingredients
The ingredients in our port and tonic cocktail recipe can be counted on one hand – white port, tonic, fresh mint, orange and ice. If you’re located in Europe or North America, you should be able to find white port wine at better liquor stores and the other ingredients at your local market.
In Lisbon, we can buy decent bottles of white port wine at the grocery store for well under €10. Shoppers in other countries should expect to pay a bit more for port brands like Sandeman and Graham’s.
We purchased a bottle of Ferreira white port to make the cocktail featured in the photos here. We also used Fever Tree Indian tonic infused with Mexican bitter orange oil. However, you can use whatever white port and tonic you have on hand.
How to Make Porto Tonico Cocktails
You’ll love making this recipe at home because it’s quick, easy and inexpensive to follow. Most importantly, the refreshing cocktail tastes good and can be enjoyed in moderation.
Follow the recipe at least once to see how and if you want to modify it later.
You can modify this recipe based on your personal preferences as well as what you have in your pantry and fridge. One potential variation is to use a lemon or lime wedge instead of an orange wedge. You can also use a sugar-free or light tonic if you’re watching your calories.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.