We are both fond of port as a nice after-dinner drink, but it also makes a great mixer. With it’s sweetness and fruity/caramel-y notes, it adds depth and richness to a cocktail. We decided to experiment with both tawny and ruby ports to see what we could come up with. Read on to see the results.
We tried the ruby port with almost every base spirit in the liquor cabinet, and nothing lit us up 😦 What to do? We thought maybe it would play nicer with richer liqueurs or a sweet vermouth, so we pulled out some black walnut liqueur and tried it. That was a win, but it still needed something. We hadn’t tried scotch initially, thinking it would be too overwhelming, but then it occurred to us that maybe a sweeter scotch might be a good addition, bringing some malt and a hint of smoke. So we threw some in and it was indeed a good fit. We still needed some bitters to round out the flavor, so after tasting through several we settled on the blackstrap bitters from Bittercube. That added some sarsaparilla and molasses flavors to the mix and gave us a result we were happy with. Named it for the color.
- 2 oz ruby port
- 1 oz scotch
- 1 oz black walnut liqueur (we used the Dancing Pine)
- 3 dashes blackstrap bitters
Assemble in the glass. Add a big fucking ice cube if you have one, small ice cubes if you don’t. Enjoy!
- Nose: Earthiness like pu-erh tea. Grape jelly, black walnut (faintly astringent), sarsaparilla, caramel-y malt.
- Palate: Sweet oxidized brandy, grape jelly and sarsaparilla at the front. Black walnut, caramel, malt, and a little bit of smoke on the mid-palate. Faintly bitter, astringent finish with caramel, molasses, and some red fruit.
We tried the tawny port with the rye almost first thing, and really liked the way their sweeter flavors tied together the dried fruit notes of the port and the spicy notes of the rye. We sweetened it up a touch with honey rather than sugar to add a little more richness, then used Boker’s bitters to give it some backbone. So named ’cause it’s a good alternative to a Manhattan 😉
- 2 oz tawny port
- 2 oz rye
- 1/4 oz honey
- 3 dashes of Boker’s bitters (we used Jamie Boudreau’s from Canon)
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
- Nose: Cloves, coconut, honey, baked apple, vanilla pastry cream, little bit of fig or raisin
- Palate: Rich mouth feel. Same flavors on the front of the palate as on the nose, with stronger raisin/fig notes. Bite of acid at the end of the finish into the mid-palate. Then honey, coconut, and barrel notes from the rye. Finish starts with the port and some vanilla from the rye, rounds out with the bitters. Interesting raisin-y coconut aftertaste.
As you can see in the recipes, it takes a fair amount of port to put it at center stage in a drink, but it’s worth doing. It is a magnanimous star, happily sharing the spotlight with other ingredients. So’s sherry, but that’s another post. So drag out that bottle of port that’s been gathering dust in your cabinet since your last dinner party and give it a whirl.