Port is surprisingly versatile and can be mixed to make all kinds of Port drinks and cocktails.
Port Old-Fashioned is a twist on the classic Old-fashioned cocktail that has been around since the 18th Century. It is the perfect cocktail for lovers of Port and whiskey.
A traditional old-fashioned is made by muddling sugar with bitters and water, and then adding whiskey (usually rye or bourbon), and garnishing with an orange slice or zest. It is traditionally served with ice in a rocks glass (sometimes called an old-fashioned glass).
A Port old-fashioned essentially swaps the bitters for Port.
Best whiskey for an old-fashioned
Traditional old-fashioned cocktails use bourbon or rye whiskey to make an old-fashioned. If you don’t have whiskey, you can substitute the whiskey with rum for this recipe.
What Port to use for a Port old-fashioned
The recipe below uses Tawny Port, but you can use a Ruby Port or any other type Port that you have to hand.
Port Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
- 1 oz Tawny Port 28 ml
- 1 oz Bourbon or rum 28 ml
- 2 tsp sugar syrup
- Splash of soda water
- orange zest
- Add the Port, Bourbon and sugar syrup to a shaker and shake.
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Strain the liquid from the shaker into the glass.
- Add the soda water and stir.
- Garnish with orange zest.
What is Port wine?
Port wine is a fortified wine, which means that additional alcohol (grape spirit) is added to fermented grape juice to produce an alcoholic sweet wine. It is made from black grapes grown in the upper Douro in Portugal. The majority of Port wine is red, but it is also made in white and rosé styles.
Types of Port
There are different styles of Port with different names, which can be confusing. Let’s discuss briefly what they are, what they taste like and how they differ from one another.
Ruby Ports are bottled ready to drink. They are deeply colored and taste fruity. There are three types of Ruby Port:
Inexpensive Ruby Port
Inexpensive Ruby Port is fruity, sweet and simple wine, usually aged for less than three years.
Reserve Ruby Port
Reserve Ruby Port uses better quality wine, has complex flavors and intensity. They are aged for up to five years.
LBV Port is similar to Reserve Ruby Port, but the wine is made from a single year’s harvest.
Tawny Ports are a paler-colored Ruby Port (some have White Port added to adjust the color) with caramel and toffee flavors.
Reserve Tawny Ports are aged for a minimum of six years in small oak vessels. They develop kernel and oxidative flavors (walnut, coffee, caramel) and have a tawny or even brown appearance rather than the ruby or purple colors of Vintage Ports.
Tawny Ports with indication of age can be labelled 10, 20, 30 or 40 (indicates the average, rather than a minimum age). They do not require decanting and should be drank as close to the bottling date as possible. This date is usually written on the label. They are best served slightly chilled.
Vintage Port is only made in good years. They are made from grapes from the best vineyards. After a short period of ageing in oak, Vintage Port is bottled unfiltered. They are long-live wines that age well.
Generally speaking, a Vintage Port is a special occasion drink to savor, rather than to use as a cocktail ingredient.
White port is made from white grapes and comes in a wide variety of styles. For a classic white Port drink, try Porto Tonico (white Port and tonic).
Rosé Port is a recent variation that was first released in 2008. It is created in a similar way to rosé wine. There is a shorter period of contact with the grape skins, ensuring less color extraction (creating the rose color rather than the typical deep ruby color created with longer contact with the grape skins).