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Published on June 5, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour

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A twist on the traditional summer drinks

What will be summer 2019’s winning drinks? Every venue will offer the traditional summer staples of beer, cider, rosé… all great, but how about offering something different, created to both refresh customers and offer your venue a point of difference – with great margins too! Mark Roberts from Lanchester Wines explains:

If we were to say “Port is the perfect summer drink” you might think we’ve got our seasons confused – surely Port is reserved for Christmas?

Port is traditionally made in the Douro region of Portugal, famed for its Mediterranean climate so, if you think about it, drinking Port as a refreshing summer drink makes perfect sense – you wouldn’t want a warming drink on a hot day. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Port, it’s a fortified wine produced from grapes grown and processed in the Douro region in the north of the country, an area extending from the city of Porto to the eastern border. The wine is then fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine and boosting the alcohol content (usually 19% or 20% abv).

As with wine, there are vast variations on brands, qualities and prices so for ease, we’ll focus on colour – White Port, Ruby Port, Tawny Port and Rosé Port (technically a Ruby Port, a Rosé Port is fermented in a similar manner to a rosé wine, with a limited exposure to the grape skins, thus creating the rosé colour).

Port is incredibly versatile. Most of us associate it with the end of a meal served with a selection of fine cheeses – however, it may also be served chilled as a delicious aperitif.

The traditional way is to pour equal parts White Port and tonic or soda water (or lemonade for a modern twist) in a cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of citrus (lemon, lime and orange are all good). Another super simple serve is to drink Port chilled straight up in a white wine glass or a short tumbler over ice.

Not only do these make for refreshing drinks, “Port plus Mixer” is a great alternative to gin and tonic. And, as well as easy to make, margins are attractive with a “house” bottle of Port available at around half the price of ‘house’ gin (based on a bottle of Vista Alegre Port, £9, vs Gordons Gin £19. Both 70cl, incl VAT).

Rosé Port Bramble
Over crushed ice pour:
1 measure Rosé Port
1 measure gin
½ measure lemon juice
½ measure sugar syrup
Fill with lemonade and garnish with summer fruits
The beautiful colours in this cocktail make it perfect for Instagram

White Port and Tonic
Aka the classic Portuguese aperitif
Over ice pour:
2 measures White Port
Top with tonic (around ½ bottle per glass)
Garnish with a slice of citrus – lemon, lime, orange or a combination all work really well
If you’re not a fan of tonic, soda water or lemonade also make refreshing alternatives.

Rosé Port Martini
In a cocktail shaker combine
2 measures Rosé Port
1 measure gin
Strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass
Add your own “house” twist by experimenting with White or Ruby Ports, or adding a dash of cranberry, rum or even mescal.

Chilled White Port over Ice
A refreshing summery drink – chilled Ruby, Tawny or Rosé port are also great!
2 measures of your favourite port
This is a lovely and refreshing drink as it is, or top with lemonade for an extra spritz.


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Alastair Gilmour



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