If you want to taste Lisbon’s official drink like the locals have been doing it more than a century, we tell you where and how to do it.
Ginjinha is what locals call to the Morello cherry liqueur. Morello is a sour cherry and is thought the Portuguese have been drinking liqueur made with it since the 17th-century.
As one of Lisbon’s most typical liqueurs, no wonder you come across with dozens of bars selling it. But some have been providing locals with their daily fix of Lisbon’s official drink for more than a century and, for Ginjinha lovers, they are a holy destination.
Some are the tiniest bars you can find in Lisbon
Some are the tiniest bars in Lisbon, and there’s barely room for more than three or four customers. Specialised in selling little more than their production of this sweet nectar, they’re as simple as a counter and some shelves with bottles. After all, you go there to taste a Ginjinha and nothing else.
A very typical Ginginha place is the “Ginginha sem Rival”
Nonetheless, if it’s not that busy try to go inside and appreciate the quaint details typical of the places which have been around for so long.
You can opt to drink it with or without cherries.
This sweet liqueur is drunk in small glasses and to order it the Portuguese way, you have to know two words: ‘com’ or ‘sem’, meaning you would like yours ‘with’ or ‘without’ cherries. We’d go for “com”, but some may not enjoy the sour taste of the cherry.
Normaly a shot costs around 1,5€
Some last advice. Before the bartender pours the nectar into the small glass, make sure the bottle is strongly shaken. A shot costs around 1,5€ and in most places they also sell Ginjinha bottles — a great Lisbon souvenir.
Where to drink a Ginjinha in Lisbon:
For the real thing, try one of these old-school taverns. You can either choose one or go on a short pub crawl — they’re only a short distance apart in Lisbon’s Rossio area.
In Lisbon, the first glasses of Ginjinha were sold here by Francisco Espinheira, a Galician immigrant. Advised by a friar, he left the cherries in ‘aguardente’ (a Portuguese strong brandy), adding plenty of sugar, water and cinnamon. It worked out so well that they’ve been doing business since 1840. Drink a Ginjinha here is a cultural experience — locals and tourist gather in the square outside, socializing while enjoying this sweet nectar. A genuine Lisbon moment. Largo de São Domingos, 8 (9am-8pm)
Ginjinha sem rival
This 10 square meter bar has been selling Ginjinha since 1890, so we don’t need to tell you the sticky liquid they pour into the small glasses is beyond good! It’s name translates into ‘Ginjinha without rival’ and some locals confirm it’s the best in town, mainly due to the quality of their cherries. Names aside, they’re not into competitions — on their bottles you can read they’ve never entered in any contest. They believe in what they sell and that’s all! Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, 7 (7am-midnight)
Like the other two, Ginjinha Rubi is a city ex-libris found in almost any Lisbon tourist guide. Their business started in 1931, and since then they’ve been selling their artisanal production in a tiny bar decorated with blue-and-white tiled panels. Rua de Barros Queirós, 29 (7am-10:30pm)
Originally published at www.welovelisbon.net on March 26, 2015.