The Poncha is one of the most traditional drink of Madeira island. Nowadays is very popular in the island and it is also possible to find it in the mainland of Portugal. The main ingredient of Poncha is the tipical rum from Madeira ” Aguardente”, produced in the island from the sugar cane. The history of Poncha is very interesting and representative of the life in the island of Madeira, in facts there are different theories on it’s origin. The first, very accepted from the people in Madeira, dates it’s origins in recent times, the fishermans and the sailors from Madeira couldn’t bring wine when the were out in the see for few days because of the heat of the sun, so they sobstitued the wine with “Aguardente” and mixed it with lemon when they were in the see. That’s the main reason why the original Poncha is called “Pescadora”, Fisherman, and it’ made of rum lemon and a bit of sugar or sometimes honey. After a while Poncha was spred in the island and different type were experimented fromthe original “Pescadora”. Depending on the type of fruit mixed with ” Aguardente” all the others Ponchas were invented: “Regional”, with orange, “Tangerina” with mandarin, “Maracuja” and “Goiaba”, typical tropical fruits.
Other theory dates the origin of Poncha in the 15th century, when the first navigations to cross the ocean started. A very common illness that affected the sailors during their journey was the Scurvy, a general illness caused by the lack of vitamin C in the diet.
In order to conserve lemons and oranges during the long oceanic navigations the sailors used to put the fruits in Rum, from this habit was created a type of Poncha, even if for other reasons and so different then what it is nowadays, the simple principle of Poncha seems to be invented in that period and then exported in other parts of the world trought sailings.
In Brasil generated the “Caipirinha” and in Cape Verde the ” Grogue”. It’s nice to drink and it’s even better researching about the history of what you’re drinking.