Poncha, strong beverage from Madeira
Poncha is a beverage from the Madeira archipelago, featuring sugar cane “aguardente”, lemon and bee’s honey, deriving from an India drink.
To taste one Poncha is commendatory for all who visit Madeira island. Yet, I am sure that for most visitors one won’t be enough and will have this drink as a present and loyal company during the all stay on the island. But I must advise you that Poncha, though very refreshing, is a very strong alcoholic beverage and I don’t want you to have a bad experience, if you know what I mean. So, as it is better to be safe than sorrow, enjoy your Poncha, but do it with moderation.
The true Madeira Poncha features sugar cane “aguardente” (firewater similar to white rum), lemon and bee’s honey, even though nowadays there are several variants made from fruits such as passion fruit that substitute the lemon. The secret is to mix all the ingredients with a “mexilote”, a typical stick with a phallic form.
Curiously, Poncha’s origins are far, far away from Madeira. In fact, some researches prove that poncha is a derivation of an Indian drink made from arrack – either rice or coconut – lemon juice, sugar, herbal tea, water and spices. The British, who used to visit often Madeira, brought this drink to the Portuguese archipelago during the 18th century. Then, Madeira inhabitants adapt the drink to local ingredients and Poncha became a popular beverage during the 19th century throughout the island.
At present, Poncha’s fame crossed the archipelago boundaries and is one of the most renowned products from Madeira, along with the Madeira wine and embroidery.
For those who won’t be able to visit Madeira but are willing to taste a Poncha here is the recipe:
- 3 tsp. of bee honey
- 2,5 dl of sugar cane “aguardente”
- 2 lemons
- Mix well the honey and the aguardente with a “mexilote” (or use a shaker).
- Add the juice of the two lemons, mix once again and serve on shot glass, decorated with a slice of lemon peel.