What Is Poncha And How Is It Made?

Glasses of poncha
Glasses of poncha - Miguel Horta/Getty Images

If you're looking for a sweet, citrus-flavored cocktail, poncha may be exactly what you're looking for. The drink combines cane sugar brandy (also called Madeiran rum), citrus juice, and muddled sugar. The sweet and acidic drink has been dubbed a traditional libation of Madeira, a region of Portugal.

Poncha can be enjoyed year-round, partially thanks to the added citrus juice. While it may be a light and refreshing beverage over ice during the hot summer months, the vitamin C from the citrus juice could be beneficial for combatting winter colds. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin C may provide a small boost to your immune system.

One defining feature of the poncha is the way the drink is prepared. Rather than simply shaking or stirring the ingredients together, it's mixed with a wooden tool called a caralhinho. Once fully mixed, the drink should be slightly frothy. Poncha is served in a small glass and often served with a handful of peanuts.

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There Are A Few Different Versions Of The Drink

Glass of poncha with flower and peanuts
Glass of poncha with flower and peanuts - Andriy Petryna/Shutterstock

There are a few variations when it comes to the preparation of Poncha. However, the Pescador is regarded as the standard by many poncha drinkers. It mixes lemon juice, sugar, and cane sugar brandy. The regional variety is pretty similar, but it adds orange juice to the mix.

If you'd prefer to let the citrus flavor mask the alcohol, the tangerina poncha may be the perfect drink. This variety blends tangerine and orange juice with sugar and brandy, resulting in a stronger fruity flavor. Or, if you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, a passion fruit poncha may be the version you prefer. The cocktail combines passion fruit pulp and sugar with the cane sugar brandy.

Other substitutions can be made, too, though the drink will deviate from the classic recipe. Cane sugar is the most common sweetener, yet, some prefer to add honey. Still, some substitute vodka or absinthe in place of the cane sugar brandy, causing the drink to more closely resemble cocktails like the lemon drop martini or a screwdriver.

The History Of Poncha Is A Little Muddled

Glass of poncha on railing
Glass of poncha on railing - dabyki.nadya/Shutterstock

By the time citrus fruits were introduced sometime between the 1500s and 1600s, the island of Madeira was an important producer of sugar cane. Though there's no single named inventor of the drink, and it's unclear when the drink was first served, it's logical to assume that residents of the island would combine the three ingredients into one refreshing drink.

Another theory suggests that the drink originated elsewhere and found popularity in Madeira. British travelers may have enjoyed a drink called "Panch" in India, which consisted of alcohol, sugar, lemon juice, water, and tea. The theory says the British then brought the drink to the island of Madeira in the 1700s, and it was commonly enjoyed by fishermen. Regardless of when and where it originated, poncha became a more common cocktail in the 1900s, becoming more popular popularity near the turn of the century.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.