TIPSY TOURIST: Port & Tonic

Rabelos, the traditional Portuguese boat used to bring port from the vineyards to the port,  moored at the harbor across from Porto.

Rabelos, the traditional Portuguese boat used to bring port from the vineyards to the warehouses in Porto.

An occasional series of bars, taverns, saloons, watering holes of note — not that we’re advocating tipsiness, of course. 

TipsyTourist13 We brought back the usual souvenirs when we went on our vacation last month but one memento will not fade, rust, break or wear out.

It is a recipe. And a simple one at that.

Port & Tonic.

Simple ingredients for a refreshing cocktail.

Simple ingredients for a refreshing cocktail.

This simple recipe of white port, tonic and a slice of lemon will remind us of the sunny days we spent in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

The Douro is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. Strictly regulated since the late 1700s, the region produces all the grapes to make the fortified wine known as port. You’ll know it’s authentic if there’s a white seal saying so on the bottle.

A summer tour of the Douro promises days of endless acres of terraced vineyard. (We heard winters can be bitter.) We made visits to quintas high on the hills where port is made and stored until it makes its way to the warehouses of Porto before it goes out to wine lovers around the world. There was beautiful, old Porto, rising over the river as it has done for centuries — a golden city of stone, wrought iron, and friendly people speaking in an exotic tongue.

PortoVineyardsWe brought home some port, of course we did. After all, we had visited Sandeman’s Quinta do Seixo overlooking the Douro River. We went for tastings and tours at Ramos Pinto and Ferreira across the Douro from Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia, where all the wineries have their warehouses and tasting rooms. We were even lucky enough to have dinner high above Porto and Gaia at Taylor’s Barao Fladgate restaurant, ending a lovely evening with Taylor’s tawny port.

All of those memories return from a simple combination of ice, port and tonic. Although we were told white port is  difficult to find in the United States, I found some at my local wine store. For about $15 a bottle. In fact, I’ve found it in a couple of places. (I keep running out.)

I’m sharing my souvenir from Portugal with everybody.

Port & Tonic

Fill a glass with ice. Fill it one-third to one-half with white port. Top it off with tonic (Some prefer soda.) Add a slice of lemon.

River cruise boats tie up at Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River from Porto.

River cruise boats, including the beautiful AmaVida, tie up at Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River from Porto.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

Other Tipsy Tourist posts feature The Wine Bin in Ellicott City,  Abbey Burger Bistro in Ocean City and Boordy Vineyards in northern Baltimore County.

Note: A fellow passenger on the AmaVida cruise of the Douro River has written a series of blog posts about her experiences on the cruise.

If you have a favorite spot you’d like to see here on Thirsty Thursday, let me know. 

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