Compact is the first word that comes to my mind as we enter O Portao. After an eventful day what I need is a light bite to eat and a cold refreshing drink. The thermometer reads 39 celsius - that's 103 fahrenheit! I am hot. We must have found the right spot because there is not a seat in the house. I am way too hot to stand around. Thankfully a table opens right up, a minute later our server comes to the table. He asks what we would like to order. I learn that O Portao is owned and operated by three friends Andre, Tiago, and Pedro (all with full time day jobs.) Our server is actually one of the owners - Andre. Apparently Gin is becoming very big in Portugal. We are told Gin bars are popping up everywhere. I see the tapas menu posted on a chalkboard on the wall behind him. I place my order, but I am slightly confused. I don’t see a Gin menu anywhere. He tells us that this busy local gin and tapas bar serves 100 plus gins sourced both locally and globally.
We are all impressed with his knowledge of the different Gins they have in stock (it is quite a selection). Andres, personally recommended some of their most popular Gin, and stirred up awesome cocktails for us. I decide my favorite is Nordes Gin a Galician Gin from Spain. This gin’s profile, for you gin lovers, is pretty unique. With a floral, fresh fruit and soapy perfume nodes is distilled using Albarino grapes. Finishing with juniper and spice, this gin with some tonic and fresh bay leaf is refreshing. I paired my cocktail with some grilled octopus (buttery and delicious) and potato croquettes. Several items later, my palette is pleased, and hunger satisfied.
We are ready to move on to the next local spot. As I stand to thank Andres and the guys for the excellent experience, Andres comes over to the table with a few rounds of his favorite after dinner drinks. Something sweet to end the meal...Did i forget where I was? There is no other way. A toast to great food, awesome drinks, and new friends. Not only is the Gin great at O Portao, but these guys are serving up some great bites.
Peter A Milano
Eat, Drink, and Explore from chef Peter's blog about his food experiences, recipes, and travel.