Tag Archives: Port Cocktails

An Interview With Porto Cocktail Competition Winner Colin Bolini

It wouldn’t be the first mention of this topic on our blog, but it bears repeating. Port tends to be an overlooked or misunderstood ingredient when it comes to developing cocktails. But when you find a drink recipe (or, better yet, develop one yourself!) that calls for port, the result is a drink with a great depth of flavor that tastes simply – well – delicious.

Presented by Tales of the Cocktail and Saveur Magazine, Sandeman hosted a contest back in the spring that challenged bartenders to develop unique recipes using the brand’s Founders Reserve Porto for a chance to win a trip to Tales of the Cocktail, taking place in New Orleans later this month. Judges for the 2012 Porto Cocktail Competition included:

  • David Wondrich – Cocktail Historian
  • Jonathan Pogash – Beverage Consultant
  • Helen Rosner – Saveur Spirits Editor

Together, the group of esteemed industry professionals declared Colin Bolini, of The Rail in Bloomington, IN, the winner for his original recipe, “Sporting Chance”. I had the chance to connect with Colin online and ask him a few questions about bartending, his unique Sandeman recipe and discover just exactly what he’s looking forward to on his complimentary trip to Tales:

StephanieJerzy: How long have you been bartending and what got you most interested in this line of work?
ColinBolini: I’m a 10 year restaurant veteran who has worked every position from busyboy to GM at a variety of establishments. I was drawn to bartending because I’ve always romanticized the position and felt that its roots in being a well respected profession could be re-conjured, and I love the spontaneous nature of the craft.

SJ: How do you prep for a bar shift? Have any rituals or best practices to get “in the zone”?

Colin Bolini in his element at The Rail

CB: When I’m setting up the bar, I like to get there early, turn up the music (something with tempo!) and move quickly to ensure I can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee prior to open. For whatever reason, I’ve been listening to a lot of the Rolling Stones album “Sticky Fingers” at set up. Another good way to get in the zone is to fool around and make an off-the-wall cocktail right at open and share it with whomever dares, it stimulates the mind!

SJ: What was the inspiration for your winning Sandeman recipe? How did those flavors come together?
CB: I have enjoyed utilizing Sandeman port in cocktails as a way to work in subtle sweetness and depth of flavor. My cocktail, “Sporting Chance,” was inspired by the depth of flavor inherent in the port, and also the brutally hot weather I knew to expect at the end of July in New Orleans! By bolstering the port with a little dark rum and cognac, lightening with muddled mint, and then bringing up the complexity with two kinds of bitters, I felt like the perfect balance was struck without disguising the port base. Served as a julep because of my fascination with the presentation style, I hope that “Sporting Chance” proves that port need not be reserved for cold winter nights only.

SJ: You’ll be at Tales of the Cocktail in July with Sandeman — Have you been before? What are you most looking forward to in New Orleans?
CB: I am attending my first TOTC, and I’m very excited! Apart from the networking opportunities and amazing New Orleans cuisine, I am most excited to learn from the industry’s best and brightest and advance my skills and knowledge surrounding my craft.

SJ: What other spirits do you most frequently like to use behind the bar?
CB: When I’m not mixing up new Sandeman cocktails, you can most often find me with a bottle of rye whiskey or mezcal, tinkering away!

You’ll be able to catch Colin mixing up his Sporting Chance recipe at a collection of Sandeman-sponsored events at this upcoming Tales of the Cocktail, including the Sandeman “Lost Art of Port” Spirited Dinner at Arnaud’s and  the Cocktail Apprentice Lunch at Tales of the Cocktail.

If you won’t be able to join us in New Orleans (or visit Colin behind the bar at The Rail), here’s the recipe so you can mix up a Sporting Chance for yourself:

Sporting Chance

  • 1 oz Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto
  • 3/4 oz El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerara Rum
  • 1/2 oz Hardy VS Cognac
  • 1/4 oz Rich Demerara Syrup (2:1)
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Mint leaves

Lightly muddle five or six mint leaves with demerara syrup in the bottom of a julep cup. Add the port, rum, cognac, syrup and bitters. Stir briefly to combine. Fill julep cup with crushed ice. Stir to chill until cup frosts. Form mound of crushed ice on top; pour cocktail.

Thanks Colin for answering our questions and we all look forward to seeing you in New Orleans in just a few short weeks!


Leave a comment

Filed under bars, events, Recipes

Prep for Port Day – Part III

Prep for Port Day charges forward at Cocktail Culture (too much alliteration? nahhhhh!) with a variation to a cocktail recipe that consumer just cannot get enough of – the Cosmopolitan.

But before I get to the recipe, let me just say a few things about celebrating Port Day today. There is a great EventBrite website where you can find a slew of Port Day tastings, cocktails, and educational seminars happening nationwide. And, even as I begin writing this at 9 am, there is a wild flurry of #PortDay conversations happening on Twitter and blogs. But if you are interested more in finding use for a bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve at home, I’ll get back to the Cosmo recipe at hand.

Adding Sandeman Founders Reserve to this cocktail may deprive the drink of its primarily pink hue, but what it may lack in color is made up for with flavor. Here’s the recipe so you can try this winner of a cocktail recipe for yourself:

Sandeman Cosmo

  • 1 oz. Founders Reserve Porto
  • 2 oz. Absolut Vodka
  • .5 oz. Hiram Walker Triple Sec
  • Splash of lime juice
  • Splash of cranberry juice

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain and serve up in a chilled martini glass.

Also, please feel free to go back to find more Port recipes in Parts I and II of this series.

Cheers and Happy #PortDay to you!

Leave a comment

Filed under events, Recipes

Embracing the Holidays with Port

Mixing up a Diavlo cocktail with Sandeman Founders Reserve port.

Normally prepared on its own as served in a large wine glass, port is recently gaining traction as a versatile and welcomed addition to a cocktail recipe. The rich and fruity components of this ruby red wine make for an even more fitting cocktail ingredient as we finally usher in the start of the holiday season.

So how does one use port in a cocktail? A ruby port, such as Sandeman’s Founders Reserve, comes in at 20% ABV, in the ranks of many liqueurs on the spirits side. Simply start with making port an additional ingredient in your upcoming holiday cider or sangria recipes. Founders Reserve has been aged for five years, giving it depth to complement a variety of powerful fruit flavors.

At home, I gave the following recipe a try, as was found on the brand’s Facebook page, the Diavlo:


  • 1 oz Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Port
  • 1 1/2 oz. Avion Tequila
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • ginger beer

In a tall Collins glass, pour tequila, lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice. Top off with ginger beer up to 1/2 inch from the top of the glass. Float Sandeman Founders Reserve on top and garnish with a lime wheel.

This drink intrigued me for it has the strong foundation of looking to be a Buck style of cocktail (spirit, citrus, ginger beer). Typically, I associate a Buck as a summer beverage, but the float of the Founders Reserve added a truly earthy depth. As such, the Diavlo developed into a cocktail layered with flavor that, to me, would be welcomed at an upcoming holiday party.

So the question of the day is: How do you use port wine as a cocktail ingredient? I’d love to see some of your ideas in the comments below!



Filed under Recipes

Sandeman Thursday Drink Night Cocktails

sandeman-port-picAs promised, I have a few Sandeman Port Cocktails to share from last week’s Thursday Drink Night. For the full list (and transcript of the evening) keep an eye on the Mixoloseum Blog. The winning recipe from this TDN (which hasn’t been officially announced just yet) will be published in an upcoming Mud Puddle cocktail guide that will be available in all Borders stores in the US!


Trans-Europe Express by Craig Mrusek of Dr. Bamboo:


1 oz. gin

3/4 oz. Sandeman Founder’s Reserve

1/2 oz. St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur


Build over ice and squeeze in a lime wedge.


Founder’s Sling by Rick Stutz of Kaiser Penguin:


2oz Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Port

1oz Tuaca

1/2oz lime juice

2 dashes maraschino

dash Angostura


Swizzle. Top with 1.5oz ginger beer and 1/2oz dark Jamaican rum.


Voyage by Tiare Olsen of A Mountain of Crushed Ice:


1oz dark Jamaican rum

1oz Sandeman port

1/4oz Santa Teresa Orange

top with ginger ale

orange peel garnish


The John O’Groats by Paul Clarke of Cocktail Chronicles:


2 oz Port

1/4 oz Scotch

1/4 oz Creme de Cacao

 1 oz Lemon Juice


The Moche by Stevi Deter of Two at the Most:


1 oz pisco

1 oz Sandeman founder’s reserve

1/2 ounce Licor 43

2-4 dashes cherry bitters


Portuguese Manhattan by SeanMike Whipkey of Scofflaw’s Den:


2 oz bourbon/rye

1 oz sandeman founder’s reserve port

2 dashes cherry or orange bitters


Trinidad Sand by Matt Robold of Rumdood:


1.5 oz rum

1.5 oz Sandeman 10yo

2 dashes grapefruit bitters

.5 oz lime juice


Strain over rocks. Top w/ 2 oz of ginger beer.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thursday Drink Night with Sandeman Port

porto-sandeman1A quick announcement for all you boozehounds and cocktail aficionados—Sandeman Port is sponsoring Thursday Drink Night tonight at the Mixoloseum chat room. Join us from 7pm (EST) till God knows when, as we throw out Port cocktail ideas, give them a try on the spot, critique, and discuss. Ted Emerson, Brand Director for Sandeman will be joining us from 7-8pm to field questions so don’t be late!


What’s that? You’ve never been to the Mixoloseum? Easy Peasy…just go to their site, make yourself a username/password and come right in! It’s open to the public and we love to see newcomers! At the very least, check in here later for an update on all the evening’s fabulous creations. I now leave you with an awesome drawing of myself participating in Sandeman TDN. Take that Dr. Bamboo! Cheers!ccf12182008_000001 


Filed under Uncategorized