Ask any bartender about their sherry selection and their eyes will light up with a feverish passion. And port, once the preserve of red-nosed captains of industry straight out of a Dickens novel, has finally taken its rightful place on cocktail lists alongside the vermouths and quinquinas who have reigned as undisputed champions of the fortifieds for far too long.
Port has found its way in to cocktails since the days of Harry Johnson and Jerry Thomas, with mentions of port-based drinks in both the Bon Vivants Companion and a healthy 36 mentions in Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual. They list Port Wine Flips and Port Sangarees; Port then was a staple of the bar. Nowadays Port has fallen from favour.
Fortified wines seemed to have had their day not long ago. Seen as the preserve of the stuffy and old, most bars might have a bottle of port or cream sherry kicking around on their back bar, gathering cobwebs and dust. But there has been a resurgence of interest in sherry and other fortifieds, and why not?