Pour On

by Caroline Hatchett
Clay Williams
April 2014

Restaurant

  • The Nautilus
    12 Cambridge Street
    Nantucket, MA 02554
    (508) 228-0301

Hold, Tilt, Raise, Lower, Repeat

  • Hold onto the base of the spout or base of the neck, depending on what’s comfortable. Never touch your lips to the spout.
  • Tilt your head back slightly, starting with the spout close to your mouth.
  • Move the porron out and up, hopefully to a full extension of your arm.
  • Hold on and chug as long as you can, and then bring the vessel back toward your mouth to a (hopefully) graceful finish. 

Parties will never be the same once you learn to tilt back a porron—that Spanish drinking vessel designed to share wine sans glasses or the threat of communicable diseases. No lips pass the porron. Instead users stream alcohol into their mouths from high above. "Some of the guys in Spain are pretty incredible; it's like drinking acrobatics," says Bartender Clinton Terry, soon-to-be-co-proprietor of The Nautilus on Nantucket.

2013 ICC Presenters After Party at Toro

2013 ICC Presenters After Party at Toro

Jamie Bissonnette masters the porron technique

Jamie Bissonnette masters the porron technique

Terry first encountered the mighty porron at Washington, D.C.'s Estadio, where bartenders serve cava, beer, wine, and the occasional cocktail from porrons. When Terry moved from D.C. to Nantucket to take over the beverage programs at The Pearl and Corazon del Mar, he took the vessel with him, giving Coastal New England its first and most fun cocktail-focused porron program.

"During the course of the summer, we got groups of 10 to 12 coming in just to do a porron," says Terry. "Someone would order one at the bar. Friends would bring friends."

For Terry, the real beauty of the porron lies in the experience. "We'd have people doing laps around the bar. Most people have never seen one, and it really brings everyone together," he says. But it's hard to ignore the practical benefits of making one big drink for a group to share, keeping a dozen humans occupied while a bartender can take and make a larger drink order.

Another bartender benefit: "An important part in serving a porron is that you're obligated to do a little quality control and demonstrate proper technique—tough job I know," says Terry, who has seen ill-advised drinkers dump a hefty portion of liquid onto their heads. "You never want to go straight up, as the liquid might come out of the top with the tilt. You can always pour it for someone, too. That's kind of fun for a group and a little less messy."

And unless you're careful with your chugging, things can get messy, which is why Terry mixes on the lighter side for porrons, making the equivalent of two cocktails to fill the one-liter vessel. Most of his drinks follow a formula along the lines of two shots liquor, a few shots mixer, and cava or beer to finish. "People request margaritas, but they're too boozy. It's too much, too quick." To which we say, pour on.