Porto Tónico – Portugal’s answer to Gin & Tonic

Gergő Sámson, our colleague in Pécs who reported on Porto Tónico straight from Porto, isn’t just a regularly returning visitor to the city but he also lived there for a while. During university – as a meteorology student – he became interested in the Portuguese language (alongside his knowledge of German, Italian and English), which is how he arrived in Portugal in August 2009 on an Erasmus scholarship. He fell for the country so much that he stayed on. Since it was not just the language but also wine that really interested him by then, on top of meteorology, he started working at the Ferreira winery, where while also being a guide, he also hosted tastings. He moved back after a year and a half, and has been working at Bortársaság ever since – but finds himself in Portugal for a few days every few months and he’s planning to spend the harvest there. 

We’ve recently been to Porto. It’s a vibrant city with a river and the ocean, where everything is about the love of life. The shiny blue sky, the hot sun, a light breeze – everything was given for us to sit on the terrace of Graham’s bar in Vila Nova de Gaia and have a refreshing beverage. What else but a Porto Tónico?

Porto’s red rooftops colour the opposite side, below us is the River Douro that hits the Atlantic Ocean right here. Porto Tónico is a lesser known but genuine summer drink made from white port. The grapes grow a bit higher up, in the Douro Valley, and the wines are aged in Gaia, opposite Porto. Filipe, the Graham’s expert, told us a bit about it. This incredibly simple drink was created not so long ago, when they started looking for Portugal’s answer to the Gin & Tonic trend, fine tuned in a bit of a lighter direction. It was a challenge to find and redefine Port’s position in the 21st century, but by today, Port-based cocktails and long drinks have become popular. Porto Tónico is more or less as much as its name suggests: Port and tonic water.

In what proportion should we mix them? Filipe likes it when the proportion is 1:2 to tonic, but there are no firm rules and it’s all about experimenting. We enjoyed the 1:1 proportion the most.

What kind of wine should we use for it? White Port, possibly extra dry.

What kind of tonic? A neutral tonic, one that’s possibly more on the sour and drier side.

What can we put into it? Lots of ice, a few slices of lemon or limetta and a few drops of their juice. We can also add peppermint leaves, and we can also experiment with cinnamon pieces and basil.

What kind of glass to drink it from? It was served in a white wine glass on the Graham’s terrace but we can also make it in gin and tonic glass or in a long drink one.