Ginja is a famous Portuguese cherry liqueur that is a must-see when you visit Lisbon.
It is also called Ginjinha because the ’-inha’ is a diminutive in the Portuguese language.
The liqueur was born in the 17th century.
Its main ingredient is the Morello cherry, which is usually harvested in June, then added water and sugar and left for 5 months in fortified wine. This results in the birth of Ginja, a sweet cherry liqueur that is a typical drink mainly in Lisbon.
The Portuguese particularly love this liqueur and that is believed to be also a cure for many minor illnesses and cures.
It is said that the first Ginja Bar was opened in Lisbon in 1840 by a Galician named Espinheira, which became the Ginjinha Espinheira Bar. This bar is still located near Rossio Square and it still enjoys similar popularity not only in locals but also for tourists.
The drink is served in a small plastic cup and there are two ways to order: with or without some sour cherries, soaked in liqueur. Needless to say, it is worth tasting both!
This tiny bar in Lisbon seats only up to 3-4 people and the walls are full of shelves filled with bottles of Ginja. Yes, with bottles… because you can not only taste this liqueur in the bar but even buy to take with you home, maybe as a souvenir or a gift. And believe me, Ginjinha will be one of the most memorable Lisbon souvenirs for your friends or family members!
After you get your cup in the bar, you can taste the drink right in the square, outside the bar. This square is full of locals and tourists from morning till night who is wandering here just to enjoy the flavor of this heavenly sweet cherry liqueur.
Since the opening of the Espinheira Bar, several Ginjinha bars have been opened in and around Lisbon in the last decade, and even some bar owners have tried to make the drink more fashionable, so they use that also as a base for various cocktails.
The bars traditionally serve Ginja in a small glass or plastic cup, but they become more common, especially in Patisseries, that the tasting is served in a small chocolate cup, so after you drink the liqueur, you can also eat the cup. Double pleasure, right?
The drink has 16% of alcohol content and it contains also some sugar.
I really recommend you to taste this iconic cherry liqueur on your next trip to Lisbon. The place around the bar with the Rossio Square and the Church of St. Dominic are also real tourist sights.
Worth a visit!