Poncha is the must try drink on Madeira. It was concocted by fishermen to warm up on cold days before heading out to sea. Nowadays, almost everyone on the island appreciates it and it has become a trendy drink on the mainland Portugal.
In its original recipe based on aguardente de cana (local firewater, similar to rum, but stronger), lemon twist, and sugar. Nowadays, instead of lemon twist, lemon juice is added and bee’s honey sweetens it, instead of the sugar. For a different taste you can add different fruit juices like passion fruit, typical from Madeira.
To mix all the ingredients there’s a secret: the “pau de poncha” or “mexilhote”, a carved wooden stick generally made from orange trees that you use to stir everything together helping to flavor the drink.
So, when on Madeira don’t forget to taste this drink along with some appetizers like peanuts or some Madeira-style seasoned “tremoços” (lupini beans). Stop by the Fábrica Mel-de-Cana Ribeiro Sêco to see how the sugar cane is turned into sugar.