Port Light Cocktail Recipe

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Port Light Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Port Light is a classic tiki cocktail that has been illuminating the cocktail scene since its inception at the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio during the 1960s. It's a bourbon-based concoction that stands out in a category dominated by rum.

  • Popularity: This cocktail is a favorite among bourbon lovers who are looking to explore the exotic flavors of tiki culture.
  • Tradition: It's often enjoyed in tiki bars and is known for its vibrant color and tropical vibe.
  • Revival: The Port Light has seen a resurgence in popularity as part of the modern tiki renaissance.

How Port Light Tastes?

The Port Light cocktail is a harmonious blend of sweet and tart flavors with a robust bourbon backbone. The passion fruit syrup lends an exotic sweetness, while the lemon juice provides a zesty tang. The grenadine adds a hint of pomegranate and a rich color, creating a drink that is both visually and palatably enticing.

Interesting facts about Port Light

  • The Port Light was created by bartender Dean Fearing in the 1960s.
  • It's a rare example of a tiki cocktail that uses bourbon instead of rum.
  • The original recipe was almost lost, but it was revived by tiki enthusiasts and cocktail historians.


  • Bourbon: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Lemon juice: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Passion fruit syrup: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Grenadine: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Crushed ice: 1cup
  • Swizzle stick: 1


Bourbon is the soul of this cocktail, providing a rich and smoky backbone that plays off the tart and sweet ingredients. Go lower than 1.5 oz and you'll lose the essential warmth, but too much and you'll overpower the delicate dance of flavors. Missing out? You're skipping the groove in the Port Light beat. An alternative could be rye whiskey which would give it a spicier kick.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Juice

Fresh is best! Lemon juice gives that zesty punch which cuts through the sweetness and adds balance. Less than 1 oz could make the drink too sweet, more and you might pucker up more than you'd like. No lemon juice? It's like a beach with no ocean. An alternative could be lime juice for a slightly different acidic twist.

Alex Green

Passion Fruit Syrup

Tropical alert! Passion fruit syrup brings an exotic pop to the party. Half an ounce is the sweet spot - not too saccharine, just rightly balanced. Without it, you'd miss the vacation vibe. Mango or peach syrup could substitute, offering new dimensions of tropical bliss but altering the signature taste.

Emma Rose


This pomegranate-based syrup adds a hint of red fruit sweetness and a sunset color. A mere quarter ounce does the trick without stealing the show. Too much, and it's sugary overboard. None at all, and you lose the blush. Raspberry syrup could work as a sub, though it'll change the flavor profile quite a bit.

Mary Mitkina

Crushed Ice

The unsung hero of many a cocktail, crushed ice chills and dilutes just right, keeping things cool and sippable. Without it, you'd sip a short story instead of a novel. No crushed ice? Pound some cubes in a towel or go for a less frosty experience with cubes.

Alex Green

Swizzle Stick

Not just for show, the swizzle stick blends the layers, ensuring each sip is as delightful as the first. It's also your garnish, a functional finery.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Port Light Drink

  1. Combine 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 ounce of passion fruit syrup, and 1/4 ounce of grenadine in a blender.
  2. Add 1 cup of crushed ice.
  3. Blend at high speed for 5 seconds.
  4. Pour unstrained into a Port Light glass, adding more ice if needed.
  5. Garnish with a swizzle stick.

Pro Tips

  • Ice: Use freshly crushed ice for the best texture.
  • Balance: Adjust the sweetness and tartness to your liking by tweaking the amounts of passion fruit syrup and lemon juice.
  • Presentation: Serve in a traditional tiki glass to enhance the experience.

Perfect Pairings


Grilled Shrimp: The zesty lemon juice and the passion fruit's tropical notes beautifully complement the smoky and savory flavor of grilled shrimp.

Salmon Ceviche: The citrus kick from the Port Light pairs wonderfully with the acidic and fresh flavors of ceviche, elevating the dish.


Jamaican Jerk Chicken: The heat from the jerk spices is tamed by the sweet and tart elements of the cocktail, creating a balanced dining experience.


Lemon Sorbet: The cocktail's lemon juice component would tie in nicely with a tart lemon sorbet, refreshing the palate between sips and bites.


Aged Cheddar: A slice of sharp cheddar cheese can stand up to the bold flavor of bourbon while meshing with the sweet and tart undertones of the cocktail.

Tropical Fruits

Papaya Salad: Enjoying a Port Light with a side of fresh papaya salad embraces the tropical essence, bringing forth a harmonious tropical experience.

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What you could change in Port Light

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, try using a different whiskey, though the flavor profile will change.
  • Passion Fruit Syrup: You can make your own by combining equal parts passion fruit pulp and sugar.
  • Grenadine: In a pinch, you can use a raspberry or cherry syrup, but the flavor and color will be slightly different.

Explore all drinks starting with P here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Port Light

Ingredients: Replace bourbon with mezcal for a smoky twist.

Recipe: Swap in 1.5 oz of mezcal. Follow the original blending instructions. Expect a smoke-infused flavor that transports your senses to an agave field.

Spicy Port Light

Ingredients: Add a small slice of jalapeño or a dash of hot sauce to the blend.

Recipe: Muddle the jalapeño slice or just add the hot sauce before blending. Prepare for a spicy kick that follows the tropical sweetness, daring your taste buds to dance a fiery tango.

Port Light Sangria

Ingredients: Add red wine and diced fruits to the mix.

Recipe: Pour 1 oz of red wine to the original recipe and throw in some diced oranges and apples. Blend lightly to mix without crushing the fruit pieces. This version becomes a party in a glass, merging the cocktail world with the fruity exuberance of sangria.

In case you forgot basics how to make Port Light

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Port Light

Can I use store-bought crushed ice or should I crush it myself?

While store-bought crushed ice can be used for convenience, crushing ice fresh from larger cubes will result in a better texture and cooler drink.

What's the difference between a tiki cocktail and a regular cocktail?

Tiki cocktails are typically rum-based and incorporate fresh fruit juices, syrups, and spices, often served in unique mugs or glasses with elaborate garnishes to create a tropical aesthetic.

How can I make my own grenadine at home?

You can make homemade grenadine by simmering equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves, adding a few drops of lemon juice for stability, then cooling it down.

Is the Port Light suitable for a beach party?

Absolutely, the tropical vibes and refreshing taste of the Port Light make it an excellent choice for beach parties or any summertime event.

What type of bourbon works best for the Port Light?

A medium-bodied bourbon with a balanced flavor profile that's not too overpowering works best to complement the sweet and tart flavors of the drink.

How do I properly swizzle a cocktail?

Insert the swizzle stick into the cocktail and rub it between your hands back and forth to mix the ingredients thoroughly, chilling and diluting the drink as desired.

What makes passion fruit syrup unique in cocktails?

Passion fruit syrup offers a distinct tropical flavor that's both sweet and slightly tangy, adding complexity and exotic notes to cocktails.

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