How to Make a Porto Tonico

View of Porto and Duoro River from Bridge

White port and tonic is Portugal's tasty answer to the G&T

by Erin

In November 2021 I spent a glorious week in Portugal – made all the more cherished as it was the first cross-Atlantic voyage in 20 exceptionally long, locked-down months.

I've always adored the European lifestyle. The ease of languishing lunches, the sophisticated calm surrounding after-work tipples. Whether aperitivo in Italy, or apéro in France, or (also) aperitivo in Portugal, there's a joyous dignity that accompanies the soft clink of glasses, the grace of small bites, and the lighting of cigarettes as chic worker-bees, elegant retirees, and stylish stay-at-home mums unwind from the day that was.

The porto tonico is a classic Portuguese cocktail, a delightfully breezy drink that's a simple 1:2 mix of dry white port and tonic water. Traditionally garnished with lemon peel and a cinnamon stick, modern barkeeps may choose an orange wheel and rosemary sprig, as shown above, of whatever their creative ambitions desire.

It was first offered to me as a before dinner aperitif on my first night in Porto – a charming ancient city that runs along the famous Duoro River, once the main thoroughfare for shipping Port to thirsty nations around the world.

I had my doubts about this mysterious concoction, but, seeing as what the hell? is a maxim that's served me decently well over the years, I entrusted that credo once again.

And I'm so happy I did.

Bright and fresh with just enough snappy herbaceous notes to add some complexity, porto tonico is pure joy. Served alongside meaty olives or simply salted chips, it's a brilliant cocktail hour sipper.

It's now a regular at my cocktail hours. Here's how you make a Porto tonico cocktail for yourself – I bet you can't drink just one.

Porto tonico in a wine glass overlooking the Duoro River from above
Porto Tonico

Serves: 1

Bartender level: Easy

  • 2 oz dry white port
  • 4 oz tonic water (the Portuguese use Schwepps)
  • Traditional garnish: Lemon and cinnamon
  • Modern garnish: orange and rosemary

In a large ballon glass or highball filled with ice, pour in port and top with tonic. Stir gently to combine and garnish with your preference. 

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