Three White Port Cocktails For Sizzling Summer Soirées

When people think of port wine, the stereotypical images of cigar-smoking men, big leather chairs, and stuffy private clubs may come to mind. But the reality is that port comes in a many forms: ruby, tawny, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage), and vintage — and at all levels of quality, style and price. Despite its image problem, port can be enjoyed by many, both before and after dinner.

And what about white port? Not as well known as its red counterpart, this pale yellow-colored version is quickly becoming a favorite of savvy bartenders. With bright acidity, residual sugar, and nutty, slightly oxidized notes, white port makes an incredibly versatile addition to a variety of classic cocktails.

What is white port? White port, like red port, is a fortified wine from the Douro region of Portugal, made from a blend of native grapes and fortified with brandy. White port, however, is made from white wine grapes and is generally less sweet and more delicate than red port. And, because the wine is fortified, it stays fresh, opened in the fridge, for a few weeks.

White port really livens up a drink when combined with spirits, like gin or tequila, and other fruity or spicy ingredients. And simply mixed with tonic water, it makes a light and refreshing drink, perfect for a hot August night.

White Port to try: Warre’s Fine White Port (SRP $17.99) is delicate and medium dry (slightly sweet) with a pale straw color and crisp, flowery aromas. On the palate, it tastes of fresh salted almonds with a long tangy, slightly peppery finish.

I received a bottle of Warre’s Port as a sample. All opinions are my own.

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White Port & Tonic

This classic Portuguese aperitif is a lightly-alcoholic spritzer, a great alternative to a gin and tonic.

Tip: Look for Q Spectacular Tonic Water, less sweet with only 9 grams of sugar.

Makes one cocktail.

3 oz. (6 tablespoons) of Warres White Port

3 oz. of Tonic Water

1 orange slice (may substitute a slice of lemon or lime)

1/2 glass of ice

1 sprig of mint

Instructions

1) Fill a tumbler half full with ice. Add white Port and tonic water and stir.

2) Squeeze juice from the orange into the drink before dropping the slice into the glass. Garnish with mint.


Blackcap Sour

Black raspberries are known as blackcaps in the mid-Atlantic. This refreshing cocktail mixes the berries with gin, lemon juice and slightly sweet white port for an invigorating, sweet and tart result.

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Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Makes one cocktail.

Ingredients

8 blackberries or raspberries, divided

3 fresh shiso or basil leaves

1.5 oz. (3 tablespoons) gin

1 oz. (2 tablespoons) Warres white port

3/4 oz. (1 1/2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice (about a half of one lemon)

1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar

Instructions

1) Muddle 5 raspberries and shiso or basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, port, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

2) Fill shaker with ice cubes; cover and shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a glass and garnish with remaining 3 raspberries.

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White Port Paloma

Paloma cocktails are all the rage these days. A little bit of white port and superfine sugar softens the sting of tequila.

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Makes one cocktail.

1.5 oz (3 tablespoons) tequila

1.5 oz. (3 tablespoons) Warres white port

1.5 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar

1/4 cup club soda

grapefruit slices for garnish

1) In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine tequila, white port, grapefruit juice, and sugar.

2) Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a large glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda, stir briefly, and garnish with one or two grapefruit slices.