After our honeymoon in Spain five years ago, my husband and I spent the better part of a year ordering gin and tonics, Spain's favorite cocktail, wherever we went. We nodded approvingly at bars and restaurants that served them in big globe-shaped glasses or with boutique tonic water or the outside-the-box garnishes (grapes! mint! cilantro!) that we encountered in Madrid, Barcelona, and San Sebastián. Our fridge overflowed with small Fever-Tree tonic bottles. We bought up Jack Rudy's whole line. We could make lemon and orange peel garnishes in our sleep.
Now that we’re back from Lisbon, we will transfer that energy to the porto tónico. Consisting of white port — a fortified wine made from white Douro Valley grapes — tonic water, and a citrus garnish (in Portugal, they'll often use a dehydrated orange slice), the porto tónico is highly refreshing, wonderfully low in alcohol, and exceedingly easy to make. It tastes like a cousin of the gin and tonic, if the herbal crispness were replaced by a touch of fruity sweetness.
I had my first (and shortly thereafter my second) porto tónico at Bairro do Avillez, celeb chef Jose Avillez’s casual charcuterie and small-plate spot in Chiado. Slightly bitter, slightly sweet, it did wonders for my jet leg and put me in the perfect frame of mind for a meal of ham, croquetas, and octopus. I followed that up with another slightly stronger porto tónico at new wave tasca Taberna da Rua Das Flores during lunch the next day, then killed my streak with an off-kilter one (too much tónico) at Avillez’s casual Cantinho do Avillez at dinner.
With summer here, it seems like the porto tónico is a perfect candidate for Drink of the Summer 2017™. As any aficionado of the Aperol spritz or the very wonderful Spritz cocktail book (or the #spritzlife Instagram hashtag) knows all too well, there’s nothing better for al fresco summer day drinking than a cocktail that’s a little bitter, a little sweet, and mellow enough in alcohol that one can continue drinking throughout the afternoon.
To make it, mix one part white port — this is the only bottle my wine store stocks and it’s perfectly wonderful — with two parts tonic water. Add some citrus, if you want. That's it! You're done! Drink it up. Drink it alongside some olives, sardines, and morcela and you’re really living the vida portuguesa.
Amanda Kludt is Eater’s editor-in-chief.
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