Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Improved Dunlop

deep burgundy-colored Improved Dunlop cocktail in a coupe, with a grapefruit peel garnish / Tim Nusog

Port has a reputation as an after-dinner drink, but this fortified wine from Portugal is a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a variety of cocktails. Its versatility is helped by the fact that port is available in multiple styles, which means it can play multiple roles in cocktails—it can add sweetness, replace vermouth, lay down complexity and temper the alcohol content of high-proof drinks.

“Port mixes well with a wide range of ingredients, from fresh fruit and berries, herbs and spices to vegetable juices and teas,” says Lulu Martinez, the director of events for Liquid Productions in Aston, Pennsylvania. And its relatively low alcohol level let it play off other flavors and ingredients without dominating drinks.

“If you want to take a classic cocktail to the next level, substitute port in place of vermouth as your spirit modifier,” suggests Martinez. That’s what she does with her Improved Dunlop, a rum-laced Reverse Manhattan riff that combines two parts tawny port with one part rhum agricole, plus sugar and Xocolatl Mole bitters. The bitters provide a dash of cacao, cinnamon and spice, and the grapefruit peel garnish brings a little citrus zest to the forefront of each sip.

The Improved Dunlop is a great introduction to port-focused cocktails, proving that port is more than an old-school postprandial sipper. But remember: Just like vermouth, port should be refrigerated after opening and used within a few weeks.


  • 2 ounces Croft Reserve tawny port

  • 1 ounce Clément X.O. rhum agricole

  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar syrup

  • 1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

  • Garnish: grapefruit peel


  1. Add the tawny port, rhum agricole, cane sugar syrup and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a coupe.

  3. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.