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Drink Of The Week: Port Light

We had some fun here at Summit Sips with the last post for Talk Like a Pirate Day. I hope you all gave that one a try, or at least gave talking like a pirate a try. Pirate grog, or Bumboo is pretty basic, and it's probably easier on your throat than growling like Bluebeard all day. This week I decided to hang on to the nautical theme and feature something similar, only our Drink of the Week uses bourbon instead of rum. It also requires you to make Passion Fruit Syrup.

I've made plenty of flavored syrups in the past, but never passion fruit until recently. I could buy passion fruit syrup, but I held off because I wanted to make it myself. However, fresh passion fruit or its juice is pretty hard to find. It turns out, much of the passion fruit juice that's out there is grape or apple juice mixed with other fruits and only small fraction is actual passion fruit. In fact, I haven't seen 100% real passion fruit juice at all. I know, you are thinking that you saw some in the freezer section, but look at the ingredients—plenty of sugar and other juice, but oddly not much passion fruit.

I decided to go with one of those big drink boxes made by Ceres. At least it's 100% juice, even if it may also contain some apple or pear. Making the syrup is a matter of reducing the liquid to a concentrated form and adding sweetener. I reduced the juice to one-third its original volume, measured it, then added an equal amount of sugar.

Passion Fruit Syrup
passion fruit juice

Using the best, 100% juice you can find (fresh squeezed if available), reduce over medium low heat to one-third its original volume. Measure the amount of juice concentrate you now have and add an equal amount of sugar. Stir over heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Bottle, and preserve with a splash of vodka or neutral grain spirits.

This project turned out to be an easy process and has made a nice addition to my rainbow of little syrup bottles. You need to keep an eye on the heat as it simmers to avoid a rolling boil and risk burning the the flavor. Once you have your syrup, it's time to start making Tiki drinks. I mentioned above that we are keeping with the nautical theme, so this week I am featuring the Port Light cocktail. It's a delicious way to show off your new syrup along with a bit of grenadine (you did make grenadine a while back, right?).

The name Port Light refers to the colored running lights on seaworthy vessels. The lights help sailors identify the position and direction of other boats on the water at night. The port (or left) side of a ship is typically outfitted with a red light while the starboard (or right) side has a green one. In case you are wondering, there is a Starboard Light cocktail which substitutes Scotch for the bourbon. It was originally served in a green marine tumbler while our Port Light was served in a red one. Other recipes have also been created for the Starboard Light that include gin and crème de menthe, but we are leaning to the left this week:

Port Light
1 oz bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
.5 oz passion fruit syrup
.5 oz grenadine

Pour all ingredients into blender along with a cup of crushed ice. Blend for 5 seconds and pour it all into a collins glass, triple old-fashound, or your favorite tiki or nautical tumbler. Add more crushed ice if necessary and garnish with a sprig of mint and a cherry.

I don't think I have ever featured a blended drink on Summit Sips. If you are reading this and thinking, "of course not—why would you?" I guess I don't have a good answer, aside from the fact that this recipe comes from Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's Grog Log, and some drinks like this are best whipped up in a blender. I hesitate to make any adjustments, but I suppose you could build this in a glass to avoid working with heavy machinery. Pour your ingredients over finely crushed ice and stir it for a while to get it really cold. This will facilitate some melting and the crushed ice will break down a bit. It's not exactly what would happen in a blender, but you'll probably finish the drink before anyone notices!

13 comments to Drink Of The Week: Port Light

  • butters

    I am lucky enough to live very close to a latin market that carries frozen goya fruit purees. Before I found this store I didn't even want to try making passion fruit syrup because like you said most of the passion fruit juices are mostly apple juice and tons of sugar. If you can find the goya passion fruit puree it makes the best passion fruit syrup. I just make a two to one simple and add the puree to the cooled syrup so I come out with a one to one passion fruit simple.

  • I LOVE the PortLight! is one of my favorite cocktails! but i haven`t made it in a blender for some reason..always shaken it..
    Its such a stunning drink! and now i got reminded of how good it is which made me thirsty..

    One thing though..what bourbon you use really affects the flavor..

    Nice photo as well.


  • Butters,
    If you read Jeff Berry's books, he absolutely recommends the puree and doesn't say nice things about using Ceres. Of course, you do what you have to, and I wasn't going to let a lack of fresh (or frozen) puree stop me from making some of these drinks, even if I knew I was taking a bit of a shortcut. I'll have to try the puree at some point though. And then there's. . .

    I seem to recall your post a while back about using fresh squeezed passion fruit, and I only WISH I could play along. I don't see many passion fruits here in Minnesota. Still, I must admit that it was your suggestion about the Port Light back then that prompted me to feature it in the first place. Thanks for the idea! I am not surprised that the bourbon makes a difference. What's your preference? I used Maker's Mark, only because it was within an arm's reach, but I could have used Jim Beam, MM46, Eagle Rare, or even (gulp) Pappy's 20, but that just seems way too indulgent. What do you like to use when you make your Port Light?

  • Randy, we can`t get much Bourbon here..we can get Maker´s Mark, Jim Beam or Bulleit and that´s it. Bulleit is out in this drink cuz i think its too mild here, Maker`s is ok but i actually prefer Beam here..even though i classify it as one of the cheap Bourbons.I have some nostagic reasons for liking it as well in this drink because this is what our Tikibar uses and so i`ve gotten used to the flavor and i think the flavor goes very well together in the Port Light. I´m curious to try Knob Creek since it has a higher proof and actually IS available through special order even though quite pricey which is why i haven`t yet tried it. That`s another good thing with JB, here its cheap and easily avalable.

  • Tiare,
    Thanks for your ideas on the bourbon. I love when you don't necessarily have to use an expensive spirit. Sometimes a bit of roughness around the edges is exactly what you need to stand up to the other ingredients. I was going to try Woodford Reserve or Buffalo Trace, but I like the idea of just using Beam. I can get huge bottles of it at Costco, and I often use it for whiskey infusions. I suppose I should call myself lucky to be surrounded by bourbons of every kind—I wish I could say the same for rum!

  • Hm..i`m actually not surrounded by anything..almost but i´m lucky still cuz one way or another spirits find their way to my bar;-)the dream situation would be to live neighbour with a shop like Astor in NYC..or maybe not..

  • My experience with the process of home-making passion fruit syrup is that the purple suckers are super-low-yield, and if you get even a portion of reddish liquid from the rind, the batch will just be bitter and awful.

    I also make a homemade quality Passion Fruit Syrup. My recipes from home and behind the bar brought to the shelf. It's really good stuff too. Really. Like, I put this out there to "fill in the gap" of good ingredients. Why? Because I like delicious tropical drinks.

    Anyhow, store's at http://www.tradertiki.com/

    Okole Maluna!

  • No question, your syrups are respected by everyone. Thanks for posting the info. Now, if we could just get all of the grocery stores and liquor stores to stock it! I'll admit that using the juice as I did here is even sometimes frowned upon with the majority of folks who know better, insisting on using the frozen pulp instead. I'll have to pickup some of yours to compare and review sometime.

  • I soon need more syrups! but i don´t wanna pay 600 crowns to the customs..so i`ll order one bottle at a time..

    Can you imagine that Blair? i`m a pro in making syrups myself, or at least they et really tasty and good and i wanna order yours? well. that shows how good they are..

  • As for passion fruit syrups i have had the best results with those large pretty sweet Brazilian types.

  • Paul

    À wonderful mix of sour and sweet with a frukts and funky taste. The bourbon gives it a stout backbone tjat can't be mistaken,but the lemonjuice lifts it up and while elevating at its peak the hints of sweet and tart passion frusit and grenadine give it a fresh and fruity end which makes you sink slowly geting you ready for the next sip when you touch the ground.
    I used fresh passion fruits when I made the syrup.

  • Paul

    Please change A ....fruity and ....backbone that....passion fruits. My iPad has some Swedish spelling check which makes it sound like I am already drunk.

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