The 2-Ingredient Cocktail Everyone in Lisbon Is Drinking

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Geraldine Campbell)

I have always said (mostly to myself, but also to anyone who will listen) that Europeans are the best day-drinkers. They have always managed to strike the right balance of refreshing and relaxing that comes from a drink that is just boozy enough. Consider Italy’s Aperol Spritz or Spain’s Rebujito, a mix of sherry and lemon-lime soda, or the Kalimoxto, a combination of red wine and coke that’s popular in Basque country.

My recent trip to Portugal confirmed my theory — and introduced me to a two-ingredient cocktail that will serve me well as summer turns to fall.

I just got back from a 12-day holiday in Portugal that was nothing short of spectacular. With the exception of a few detours, I spent my time in Lisbon, a city that will charm your pants off without leaving your pockets empty. Seriously, this may well be my new favorite European city — and it seems many others agree with me. (More on that to come next month).

I ate custard tarts (aka pasteis de nata), sampled the port town’s seafood in every different form possible, drank my way through the country’s affordable and delicious wine offerings, and discovered my new favorite two-ingredient drink: the port and tonic.

The Port & Tonic Is the 2-Ingredient Drink You Need to Know

Our assistant food editor Sheela actually clued me in to this drink before I left, although I’m almost 100 percent sure I would have discovered it on my own: It’s everywhere. You can find it in fancy restaurants and casual cafes and even at the many kiosks (or quiosques) that offer nibbles and refreshment at various parks, tourist attractions, and random street corners throughout the city.

It goes with just about everything, too — and it’s also great on its own. I had my first port & tonic at Olivier, the cornerstone of the Olivier Restaurant Group, where it paired pleasantly with cones of ceviche and avocado creme, and my last at Time Out Market (part food court, part market), as an antidote to the midday heat.

Finally, it’s dead simple to make. All you need is port — the white kind, not the red — and your favorite tonic water. If you want to get fancy, you can add an orange slice (typical in Lisbon) or a lemon twist.

Have you tried port & tonic? What’s your go-to white port?