Friday Night Cocktail: Port Light

With summer now in full swing, I decided to whip up another batch of passion fruit syrup. While I could never truly tire of Hurricanes, sometimes I’m in the mood for something other than rum.

Fortunately, my husband – a confirmed rum-lover – has recently discovered the merits of bourbon as well. I’m thrilled that he’s finally become a convert to at least one kind of whisky, so I’ve been taking every opportunity to foist new bourbon-based drinks on him.

Rum may be the stronghold of Tiki drinks, but there are also gin, tequila and bourbon outposts. The Port Light is a refreshing variation on the basic Bourbon Sour that replaces the standard simple syrup with a mix of passion fruit syrup and grenadine.

How to make a Port Light cocktail

Adapted from Beachbum Berry Remixed

  • 1/4 oz. grenadine (or increase to 1/2 oz. if you find the drink too tart)
  • 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz. bourbon

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake hard for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a cherry.

The Port Light is presumably so named because the grenadine should tint  the drink, like the navigation light on the port side of a vessel, red. (Though some references suggest that it was merely served in a red glass, with a corresponding Starboard Light in a green one.) I used homemade grenadine, which is sometimes a little lacking in the colour department, unless you add something to deepen it, such as hibiscus flowers. Although the colour may have been timid, the flavour was anything but!

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2 Responses to “Friday Night Cocktail: Port Light”

  1. Trader Vic’s books also have a Starboard Light which is a Scotch variation of the concept, but alas, it is not green.

  2. What’s interesting about the Trader Vic versions is that they’re both made with lemon juice, passion fruit nectar (not syrup), and honey, the Port Light with bourbon and the Starboard Light with Scotch. Each one calls for its respective glass, and the post I linked to above suggests that it’s the glass itself that was coloured, not the drink. But Beachbum Berry calls for grenadine in the Port Light, and attributes the drink to Sandro Conti of the Kahiki club in Columbus, Ohio. It, too, has a dedicated glass. I’m not sure whether Trader Vic simply adapted the Conti drink and bought glassware accordingly, or whether Beachbum Berry simply omitted the Starboard Light.