Ginjinha in Lisbon

A must when visiting Portugal is the ginjinha in Lisbon. Many locals call it the ginja, a lovely liqueur made of sour cherries 🍒 soaked in a distilled spirit known as aquardente.

They flavor the mixture with spices like cinnamon and sugar to give it a sweet taste and pack a punch.

It is a must-try if you have never heard of this traditional drink. Keep reading to learn more.

Where Did Ginjiha Come From?


The sweet liqueur is iconic in Portugal as pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tart), but it all started with the Romans, who brought the ginja tree with them.

It is now part of the Portuguese culture, and the official drink was first sold to the public by Francisco Espinheira at a bar in Lisbon.

Yet, before he produced ginja, a similar cherry liqueur, which was very expensive yet time-consuming to make, it was served in Portugal mostly to upper-class citizens. It was so expensive because they fermented it directly from the cherries.

At the time, a friar based in the Igreja de Santo Antonio church suggested that Espinheira make a similar-tasting drink by infusing the cherries with an aquardente to mask the pungent alcohol taste using cinnamon and sugar.

It produced less time and cost and was a success with the residents. Today, you can still visit the bar to enjoy this alcoholic drink. It became a favorite among people and was used as medicine.

With time, it became a dinner drink and a drink of choice with the locals. During the 20th century, it became available in a small shot glass given to children to cure illnesses but mainly to let them sleep.

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Is It Ginja or Ginjinha

When you pay attention, you notice that people use two different words. So, what is the right word, and are they different drinks?

Ginja is the Portuguese word for the sour cherry, and ginjinha is the alcohol derived from the fruit. You can refer to the drink either way.

A fact is that many brands market it as ginja.

How is The Ginjinha in Lisbon Official Drink Made?

The Portuguese liqueur is made from an aguardiente of brandy or fortified wine infused with sour cherries, cinnamon, and sugar.

The ginja-based mixed drinks have a dark red, sweet, and strong taste with an ABV of around 18% to 24%.

As mentioned before, the phrase ginja refers to the fruit that is a small red berry and very acidic.

The English term for this iconic drink is Morello cherry, and sometimes, it is called ginjinha. This simple drink can be found around every corner in Lisbon.

You find it sold at upscale eateries to street festivals. Ginja is made of Morello cherries and is smaller than the average cherry.

The Best Ginjinha Bar Lisbon Experience

Ginja is a popular souvenir to buy and take home, and you can find ginjinha bottles sold at some of the best ginja places.

While you can go on a guided tour of the ginjinha Lisbon, you can enjoy this Portuguese souvenir at any of these places.

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Ginjinha Espinheira

  • Service Options
    Open Front Bar For Pip-Spitting Crowd
  • Address
    Largo São Domingos 8

I recommend visiting A Ginjinha Espinheira first, and they are open from 9 AM to 10 PM. You can find them in Rossio in the city center, which has a long history of making this sour cherry liqueur dating back to 1840.

It is also claimed that it was the first bar to sell Lojas Com Lojas Com História. The bar is also known as Ginjinha Espinheira. You can enjoy a perfect drink here, but the place is always busy. A ginja shot costs €1.50.

Ginjinha Sem Rival

  • Service Options
    Rooftop Seating/Outdoor Seating
  • Address
    R. das Portas de Santo Antão 7

If you speak to a local, they will recommend Ginjinha Sem Rival. It is located around a bend from A Ginjinha Espinheira and is just as old. So, you can try both to decide which sour cherry garnish you prefer. A shot of ginja will cost you €1.20, and they also serve other drinks.

Ginjinha Rubi

  • Service Options
    Only serves ginjinha
  • Address
    R. Barros Queirós 27

A short walking distance from the two rivals, Ginjinha Rube also serves a sour cherry option drink. The cherries come from Obidos, and the bar dates back to the 1930s. Tourists and locals visit it.

Ginjinha da Ribeira

  • Service Options
    Cafe selling more than ginja
  • Address
    Av. 24 de Julho 50

You do not need to travel to enjoy the ginja de Obidos, which can be found in Ginjinha da Ribeira, Lisbon.

But making a trip north to the medieval fortified town Obidos is a must if you have time. At the Ginjinha da Ribeira, you can savor from the traditional ginja to the one in a decadent chocolate cup.

You can also order bottles of this liqueur. A shot costs around €1 to €5.

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Ginjinha Lisbon Drinking Etiquette

There is no specific time of day to enjoy authentic ginjinha. When visiting Lisbon, you will find people outside the bar, opening, and closing, to savor this strong cherry liqueur.

Hot Tip🔥: The sweet cherry liqueur shot is strong. I recommend enjoying a shot at least during lunch or having a big brunch before that time.


To Cherry Or Not Cherry


They are straightforward when visiting the famous ginja bars to enjoy this cultural experience. You only need to decide whether you want the cherries or not.

I recommend considering this question carefully, as it is the first question they ask, whether com elas or sem elas.

Still, before you answer, eating the sour cherries found at the bottom is customary after you drink your shot. The authentic experience is to eat it.

But many people suck on the cherries and spit them onto the floor, but you can discreetly place them back into your glass.

But it can be a sticky experience, and it can also affect your experience. It has a sour flavor.

Still, most vendors have a wash basin to help remove the sticky experience.

Whether you enjoy it with or without the cherries is a personal preference.

Enjoy Ginja With a Modern Twist


You can find some classic recipes for this distilled alcohol drink, mostly consumed independently. But you can serve it in many ways.

A common one created by Obidos found on the north side of Lisbon and very popular is to enjoy it in edible chocolate cups.

The shots are in a dark chocolate cup with plenty of sugar and are very delicious. According to Obidos, you should enjoy ginja as an aperitif or a digestive after-dinner drink.

Still, you can find different ginja-based mixed drinks throughout Lisbon.

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Wrap-Up: The Authentic Taste of Ginjinha Lisbon

Drinking ginjinha is a fantastic experience, and you must at least try it once you visit Lisbon.

It is part of Portuguese culture and is a local product sold to people over 18.

It brings people together, and you will fall in love with it. It tastes good and warms you up fast, no matter the time of year.

So, take a shot at this iconic drink to create your own memories while here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ginjinha is strong with an alcohol by volume between 18% to 24%. So, it is stronger than wine but also weaker than rum or vodka.

Some of the benefits of ginjinha include its antioxidant properties due to the presence of ginja berries and its potential to aid digestion. Additionally, many people enjoy its unique flavor.

Yes, ginja is served cold in a shot glass. The recommended serving temperature is between 15º and 17º (C) or slightly chilled on hot days.

You can have ginjinha with or without the sour cherries you normally find bobbing in the bottle. If you want the full experience, choose them. After drinking your shot, you eat the sour cherries.

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