So there’s Madeira Wine, but what other boozy treats are there on offer out there?
Well. They distill a golden rum, which they call sugar cane brandy. It’s good! The also make it into a drink called Poncha. It’s punch. It fits the standard cocktail vein of rum, sugar, citrus. In this case the citrus is a mix of orange and lemon. The sweet comes from honey. They also do a passion fruit one (because they do passion fruit everything in Madeira!) but I didn’t try that one. It’s mixed in a jar type thing using a type of muddler. While it has a proper name (probably) that has been lost in the mists of time and it now gets called caralhinho. Basic translation is ‘small penis’. You can guess what they look like. It’s fortunate that you can guess what they look like, as I forgot to take a photo of one!
It’s served pretty much everywhere, regardless of what else they sell. Sometimes it’s pre-made in bottles but usually it’s (begrudgingly) made fresh. I got the best one I had at a little ice cream shack. The most traditional place to go for Poncha? Grocery stores. At least so I am told, we didn’t actually manage to attempt this while we were there. Makes sense as they were the place of meeting and socialising in the village I grew up in too.
The reason it can be served anywhere is that unlike almost every other similar concoction, it’s served with out ice. Room temperature in Madeira is usually at least 22 degrees, so you do have the ice to take the edge off either the rum or the citrus. It’s warming to say the least. Not in a bad way though, especially if you like your drinks strong!
If you fancy making it, I’d guess it’s a standard 3-2-1. Put everything in a pitcher and whisk it until the honey is completely incorporated. Serve in something. Anything. It’s not a precious drink!