Although not a true holiday but just a (very) commercial one, National Wine Day on Friday, May 25 might be the perfect way to kickoff the unofficial start of summer.
Blush-hued (and Instagram-adored) rosé wine varietals—and its overly-sweetened, frozen offspring, frozé—have seemingly dominated beach and rooftop parties the last few summers, but a new drink has sailed into port. (Editor’s note: This pun was unavoidable.)
Meet the new wine-based cocktail trend poised to sweep up this season: a white port and tonic. It’s simple to mix and cool to drink—certainly temperature-wise, and according to some wine industry insiders, but reputation-wise soon, too. For casual drinkers, it might spark as a cross between a classic gin and tonic with a white wine spritzer.
The beverage has roots in Portugal, where it has been a summer staple for ages, and is just now catching on in the United States.
White port, on its own, was virtually unknown to many average wine consumers until recently, but has seen its popularity jump around the world, according to Ana Rato, marketing director for Ramos Pinto, a port producer originally founded in 1880 that cultivates 460 acres of vineyards in Portugal’s Douro wine region.
“As Portugal is becoming more popular as a traveling destination, so is Port Tonic,” Rato tells Fortune. “It is very gratifying to finally see it in cocktail menus and that bartenders are starting to ask for it.”
Portugal’s tourism rates soared to record numbers for the seventh straight year, welcoming more than 12.7 million foreign tourists for the first time in 2017.
Rato says general consumer interest in white wines has been a contributing factor to white port’s growing fan base, but “that travel trends are helping a lot to disseminate this cocktail all over the world.”
“The ability to take a little bit of the great culture of Portugal and its amazing fortified wines, and use a simple, delightful, easy to drink cocktail as a way to call that to the mind of a guest is a fun thing to be able to offer,” says Andy Seymour, a partner at Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), a New York-based education program for mixology, cocktails, and spirits. “People appreciate what that can mean and are curious to use cocktails as a way to try things they may not have tried otherwise.”
Yet Seymour suggests it’s more about the beverage itself, rather than just a wanderlust-inducing backstory, that is catching on with bartenders and their patrons alike given that white port has a light, crisp body—making it more versatile to consume for a wider audience.
“Bartenders are constantly looking for various and exciting ingredients that can add new flavor profiles to their drinks,” Seymour explains. “Port, though it has a link to some classic cocktails, has until recently been less utilized in drinks and on menus.”
And given that port pairs well with a mixer (in this case, tonic), it also serves as a lighter alcoholic option for long, hot summer days.
“Lower ABV drinks are becoming a great alternative for guests to a glass of wine or champagne, or as an alternative to full strength cocktails—so more options are being sought out to serve to those guests and place on cocktail menus,” Seymour explains.
As photo-friendly beverages such as frozé and Starbucks’s Pink Drink were able to amass loyal (or at least curious) followings via social media, White Port & Tonic could already be on its way via Instagram.
Just this week as I was writing this article, I happened upon—I stress, by total coincidence—a friend’s vacation photos in my Instagram feed, depicting her and her companions sipping on White Port & Tonics, among other eye-catching drinks.
When I reached out to my friend Katherine, she immediately responded with an enthusiastic review:
To prepare your own, stir one part white port with one part tonic water. Fill the glass with ice cubes, stir well, top with a garnish (ideally a lemon wheel, basil, or mint leaf), and sip responsibly.