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Why I’m in Love With Ginjinha: Portugal’s Bitter Cherry Liqueur

In every single place you go in Portugal, you’ll discover a sure iconic native liqueur. Your journey isn’t full till you’ve tried it—however what’s ginjinha, and why is it so particular? 

Close-up of a shot-sized glass of dark red liquid, with a tiled sidewalk in the background.
Having fun with a glass of ginjinha on the tiled streets of Lisbon

As a self-described ginjinha fanatic, I’ve a couple of concepts. There’s one thing about this drink’s easy mixture of elements and celebratory spirit that makes it a favourite of locals and vacationers alike.

The one solution to actually perceive is to attempt it, however right here’s my try on the subsequent neatest thing: to elucidate why I am completely head over heels in love with this basic Portuguese liqueur.

What Is Ginjinha? 

Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur created from bitter cherries. It’s darkish purple in shade and is served in small shot glasses or edible chocolate cups. It may be discovered at roadside stands and eating places from Porto to the Algarve and all over the place in between, and is a must-try meals for any customer to Portugal.

The Distinction Between Ginja & Ginjinha

When you pay shut consideration, you’ll discover that these two phrases are sometimes used interchangeably. So what’s the deal? Are they really completely different?

Technically, ginja is the Portuguese phrase for the bitter cherry itself, whereas ginjinha is the alcohol created from this fruit. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to seek advice from the drink as both one.

In actual fact, many manufacturers promote it as ginja, together with the well-known Ginja de Óbidos. I usually swap forwards and backwards between the 2 phrases, and it’s by no means brought on any confusion.

Why Is Ginjinha So Good?

Most individuals both love or hate ginjinha as quickly as they fight it. I fall firmly into the primary camp, and I’ll inform you why.

Ginjinha has an unmistakeable cherry taste that hits you full on. It’s concurrently candy and robust, which is my favourite sort of alcohol; it’s why I like Spanish vermouth, Pedro Ximénez, and port wine as effectively.

I’m a sucker for one thing that tastes good and packs a punch, and ginjinha does precisely that. In different phrases, it is like a liquid dessert that will get you tipsy… what’s to not love?

The right way to Drink Ginjinha

First issues first: it’s not a shot. Simply because it’s served in a shot glass, that doesn’t imply you might want to toss it again like tequila. It’s greatest to sip it slowly, savor the style, and revel in it.

Then there’s the query of the cup itself. Many locations have began serving ginjinha in small cups manufactured from darkish chocolate, which you’ll be able to devour proper after you’re taking the final sip.

This isn’t the standard solution to drink it, however there’s no denying that it’s scrumptious. The chocolate completely enhances the cherry taste, and turns it from a easy drink into an entire expertise.

Small paper liners containing chocolate cups of dark liquid with skewered cherries on a glass countertop.
Ginjinha served in a chocolate cup, full with a bitter cherry garnish

Lastly, the massive query: com ou sem elas? Actually, this implies “with or with out them?” It refers back to the bitter cherries themselves, which may normally be discovered bobbing within the bottle. For the total expertise, all the time go for com elas (with them). The cherries are gentle and strikingly bitter—simply be careful for the pit!

Be a part of us on a meals tour in Lisbon to attempt a few of the metropolis’s most genuine ginjinha!

Why Ginjinha Has a Particular Place in My Coronary heart

I first tried ginjinha at a neighborhood pageant in Ferrel (a small village in central Portugal), the place I purchased it from a road vendor. I used to be instantly hooked. Since then I’ve had it in Lisbon, on the streets of Óbidos, at numerous eating places, and even straight from the bottle.

Cobbled alleyway with old white and yellow buildings, tiled roofs, and green plants with orange flowers.
The attractive streets of Óbidos, a Portuguese city well-known for its regionally made ginjinha

What do all these experiences have in widespread? In each case, ginjinha provides a festive aptitude and a particular deal with to any event. It’s the proper drink for a toast, to have fun, or to finish a scrumptious meal.

It additionally makes for an amazing Portuguese memento or reward. I’ve purchased many bottles (large and small) for individuals I care about, to say thanks or present that I’m fascinated by them.

An Genuine Style of Portugal

Above all, the very best factor about ginjinha is that it so clearly and lovingly represents its place of birth. It’s an plain image of Portuguese tradition, and a neighborhood product that brings collectively individuals of each origin and age (18 and over, in fact).

I like ginjinha not simply because it tastes good and solely prices about €1 per glass, however as a result of it’s all the time linked to good reminiscences. It’s one thing to be shared and savored, identical to all the very best consuming—and consuming—experiences.

Ginjinha FAQs

How is ginjinha made?

Ginjinha is made by infusing distilled alcohol (aguardente) with bitter cherries (ginjas) and flavoring it with sugar and cinnamon. Historically, the cherries are left to soak within the liquor for a number of months earlier than it is able to drink.

The place is ginjinha from?

The straightforward reply is Portugal, and the village of Óbidos is especially well-known for its regionally made ginjinha. However because the story goes, the drink was initially invented by a Galician friar on the Igreja de Santo António in Lisbon.

How sturdy is ginjinha?

Ginjinha has an ABV (alcohol by quantity) of about 18–24%, that means it is stronger than wine however weaker than spirits like rum or vodka. It is related in power to fortified wines like port and sherry.

The place can I attempt ginjinha in Lisbon?

You will discover ginjinha throughout Lisbon, however the very best locations to attempt it are sometimes probably the most conventional. I particularly love Ginjinha Sem Rival and A Ginjinha, each of that are proper downtown close to Rossio.

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