Port and Tonic Cocktail Recipe

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Sweet, bubbly, and delicious Port and Tonic Cocktail is a light, refreshing drink loaded with fresh citrus flavors based on the flavors of Porto, Portugal.

picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table
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Sparkling White Port and Tonic Cocktail

I love bright, bubbly, lightly sweet (but not TOO sweet) cocktails in spring and summer – less alcoholic drinks you can sip through an afternoon that are full of flavor, and pair with any meal. Port and Tonics have become my newest obsession after visiting Portugal with my friend Jessica from Savory Experiments this year – and I can’t wait too share this amazingly easy and delicious cocktail recipe with you!

This port and tonic recipe is based off the amazingly delicious version I ordered at the Intercontinental Porto – one of Porto’s most beautiful hotels in a fabulous location (and compared to many other European cities, Porto is much less expensive, even in a luxury hotel!) If you’re looking for delicious, fresh and innovative cuisine, amazing wine and outstanding cocktails, culture, architecture that will take your breath away, great shopping, and welcoming locals – all at a great price – Porto, Portugal is a city you need to get to!

For our web story of this recipe, click here.

Picture of port and tonic in a wine glass in a hotel lobby bar.
Port and Tonic at the lobby bar, Intercontinental Porto

What is Port

Port is a traditional Portugese drink made from Douro Valley Region in Portugal and mixed with aguardente – a type of liquor similar to brandy.

Since port is fortified (mixed with brandy), it is sweeter, stronger, and more alcoholic – but the addition of brandy also helps to stop the fermentation of the wine.

While port is a decidedly Portugese product (port must come from Portugal in order to be called port), but owes a good part of it’s history to the British.

With England and France continuously fighting in the 17th and 18th century, Brits looked to other countries for red wine instead of Bordeaux – and began mixing a bit of brandy in the bottles to keep it safe for the journey back to England. The addition of brandy became a hit, and brits helped propel the sweet, rich drink.

Portugal has always had a strong relationship to the English – making it a really easy country for English-speaking travelers to visit. Learning a couple phrases in portugese can really help – a cheerful “obrigado” lights up lots of faces!

picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table

Types of Port

There are four basic types oof port wine: White, Rose, Ruby, and Tawny port.

There are many different official categories of Port, but most fall under these 4 categories:

  • Vintage Port is a well-aged, more expensive, richer, sweeter port made from a variety of different wines from the same vintage (year), blended together. Vintage ports tend to be much more expensive.
  • Tawny Port is a very sweet barrel-aged port that is popular worldwide as a dessert wine – with rich notes of raisin, caramel, nut, and spice.
  • Ruby (Red) Port a deeply-colored red Port that is a bit less sweet than Tawny port and tastes more “fresh”, with notes of raspberry, cranberry, cinnamon.
  • Rosé Port This is a new style of Port wine made like rosé wine with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and honeysuckle. If you’re leary of overly sweet port, try a Rosé.
  • White Port is made with white grapes like Portugal’s Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio and Malvasia grapes. White port is very fresh and lighter tasting, and has notes of lemon, apple, and honey.
picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table

How to Make Port & Tonic

For this recipe we’re calling for white port – or rose port in a pinch – see why:

White port. I had never tasted white port before visiting Porto – it’s not very common in America, but it is lighter, less sweet, and more crisp – perfect for a bubbly, citrussy cocktail. I personally reccomend using white port in a port and tonic cocktail – though it can be harder to find in the US. White port is a very economical ingredient – you can get a high quality bottle for under $15 (and many are priced right around $10.)

Rosé port, which is crisper, fresher tasting, and lighter than tawny or ruby ports, is another good addition to a port and tonic cocktail if you can’t find white port, or only have ruby port on hand.

I personally use the following tonics in my port and tonic recipe:

Picture of 5 glasses of port at a wine tasting in Porto
Port tasting, Porto Portugal

Tips to Perfect Port & Tonic Cocktails

Do be careful when serving these – they go down very easy!

If planning a party, plan 8 oz port and. 16 oz tonic per person. This is a large amount of alcohol – 3 drinks worth – so don’t let guests drive home, but should help you plan the right amount to have on hand for a big party.

I like to pour out my port into a pitcher or jar ahead of a party and add lemon, lime, and orange peels to the jar to soak up the citrus flavor, and then have guests pour their own drinks, top with tonic, and garnish with fresh citrus peels throughout the party.

FAQs

Can I make a big batch?

For parties, we like to combine the citrus slices and port in a large pitcher, then pour individual into individual glasses and top with tonic.
Port and citrus can be mixed and stored for up to four hours before serving – add tonic right as you drink, so you don’t lose carbonation.

What citrus should I add?

I like adding lemon, lime, and orange slices to white port and tonic cocktails. You can use more or less of any citrus you like, or even try grapefruit, or mix in fresh berries!

Should I muddle citrus?

If serving immediately, lightly muddling citrus by pressing the back of a spoon against citrus slices in the glass can help release a bit of the fruit’s oil and flavor. If you’re letting the port and fruit sit for at least 30 minutes before adding tonic and serving, there is no need to muddle.

picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table

Porto, Portugal

Porto is a gorgeous coastal town nestled on the banks of the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, in Portugal’s north.

Porto is known for their gorgeous bridges, beautiful tile (and tiled buildings), and of course, Portuguese wine, including port!

Port is a huge part of Porto – you can find tasting bars all over, and tour numerous port wine cellars throughout Porto.

For our top picks of what to do in Porto, including easy access to museums and unique guided experiences, please click here.

Porto is a very easy and relatively short train ride from Lisbon – we loved watching the waves crash and gentle rolling hills zip along past our train car.

The train was very easy to navigate – and if you don’t speak Portugese, no worries, they have plenty of employees and signage in English.

Picture of Porto skyline
View from our room at the Intercontinental Porto

It takes just about 3 hours to ride the train between Lisbon and Porto.

Lisbon is a short very flight to most European cities (and around 6 hours from the Eastern seaboard of the US), making Portugal a very easy destination to visit!

Other Easy Gin Cocktails You’ll Love

If you love this easy port and tonic cocktail with fresh citrus, please check out my other favorite gin-based drinks!

You can find our complete cocktail and drinks recipe archive here.

picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table

Port and Tonic Cocktail Recipe

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picture of a wine goblet with slices of citrus, ice, port, and tonic on a table

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A sparkling Port wine cocktail with orange slices and a bottle of tequila.
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Port and Tonic Cocktail Recipe

Sweet, bubbly, and delicious Port and Tonic Cocktail is a light, refreshing drink loaded with fresh citrus flavors based on the flavors of Porto, Portugal.
Course Drinks
Cuisine Portugese
Keyword cocktail recipe, low calorie port cocktail, port and tonic
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 115kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 4 oz white port wine
  • 8 oz diet tonic
  • 1 cup ice
  • ½ orange sliced
  • ½ lime sliced
  • ½ lemon sliced

Instructions

  • Add ice to glass.
  • Add citrus slices.
  • Pour white port into glass.
  • Stir to mix, and press firmly on peels as you stir to help release some of the citrus oils in the zest.
  • Top with tonic.
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • Refill in same glass as citrus oils will continue to release as you drink, making cocktail more flavorful as time goes on.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 745mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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2 Comments

  1. Anthony J Potocki says:

    Just copied your Port and Tonic Cocktail. Virtually impossible to find a white port. Have you tried it w/ the different red ports? If so- how did you like it. Please Advise

    1. Katherine says:

      Port is a fortified wine so the closest substitute will be Marsala wine. If you want to keep the cocktail clear, you can use a sweet white wine.