Port strikes me as something that should easily lend itself to cocktails, given its history in the spirits world. But in actuality, it’s rich flavor can be fairly complex to craft into a drink that reaches the modern-day palate. However, there are many delicious cocktails that use Port as one of the main ingredients that are either making a comeback or being forged by bartenders. Overall, Port is usually best paired with whiskies, rums, brandies and drinks that use eggs that add texture to help balance the body that Port has to offer.
Understanding what each style of Port provides is also important: Ruby spends less time in barrel, so it retains more of a deep color and full-bodied intensity of the wine, while Tawny is less sweet, but more complex from its usual 10 to 20 years in barrel. There is also Vintage Port, which is more for sipping. However, a Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port can provide the feel of a Vintage port from a given year, but with less aging required. White Port and now Pink Ports are also fun to experiment with in lighter, more refreshing cocktails.
Some of my favorite classic Port cocktails include a sipper such as the Chancellor (Scotch, Port, Sweet Vermouth, Angostura), or a dessert drink, like the Coffee Cocktail (Port, Cognac, Simple, Nutmeg, Whole Egg). But there are also many great punches and cobblers to seek out, some of which are centuries old. One egg white cocktail that stands out to me is the Japanese Fizz, which is basically a whiskey sour with Rye and Port. The pairing, slightly dried by the egg white, really brings out the wine’s character without being overly rich. If you’re new to Port in cocktails, try experimenting using a Tawny or Ruby Port instead of sweet vermouth or in addition to it (half Port, half vermouth) in a whiskey cocktails and see the difference. Enjoy.
- 1 1/2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
- 1/2 ounce Taylor-Fladgate 10 year old Tawny Port
- 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 ounces simple syrup
- the white of one egg
- Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry shake (without ice, shake vigorously for a few moments).
- Add ice and shake again for about 10 seconds, then strain into Fizz glass (or basically a water glass)