What is Ginja Liqueur? Understand it Better!

Sweet, strong & traditional, let’s unfold Ginja’s story; Lisbon’s legendary liqueur. Ginja is beyond a Souvenir to get when you travel to the beautiful land of Portuguese

Name any Southern European country and you will have an iconic liqueur connected to their land, in some cases, many. Limoncello in Italy, ouzo in Greece, licor de hierbas and crema de orujo in Spain. And in Portugal, it’s Ginja. 

This deep red liqueur is a must-try on the Portugal list, where you will find and hear most of the recommendations for local specialties from bars, streets, shops, and all over the country. 

Not to forget, Ginja is an absolute tourist favorite for all reasons from taste and affordability to culture. It’s emblematic of Portuguese culture. That’s all about the surface and there’s more to explore from beneath about this iconic drink. The moment you will be aware of the entire story of Ginja, you will have many more reasons to love every sip of it. 

What is Ginja? 

Ginja is a Portuguese liqueur made from aguardente, which is brandy or fortified wine, that’s been infused with sour cherries, sugar, and cinnamon. It’s dark in color with a sweet and strong profile at the same time. It has an ABV of 18-24%. 

Are you wondering about the name “Ginja?” Let’s unfold that for you. Among other meanings to its name, Ginja also means a fruit. A fruit that resembles cherry and is highly acidic. The English name for it is Morello Cherry. 

You will also read and hear the drink to be pronounced as or written as ginjinha. That’s how a local speaker will address Ginja. But the good news is that you don’t have to work hard for this drink or get the pronunciation right to access it. You can find it almost everywhere in Portuguese. 

Also Read: How to Drink Ginja: 17 Best Ways

A Glass Of Ginja Contains How Many Calories?

A shot glass of Ginja has 103 calories. However, calorie count can change based on many factors as to how you like to have it, what side drinks you choose, what you mix it with, and other things. Therefore, if you are on a calorie-deficit lifestyle, watch for how much you drink and what side edibles and drinks you have. 

Ginja Contains How Much Alcohol? 

Ginjinha contains a 19% alcohol level. This well-known Portuguese liqueur is famous for its intense flavor, which comes from sour cherries that have been combined with sugar and alcohol. Ginjinha is a popular choice for both locals and tourists due to its pleasant combination of sweetness and acidity and its modest alcohol level. Ginjinha’s smooth and fruity profile provides a nice touch to any social event or leisurely time, whether consumed as an aperitif or digestif.

Ginja Recipe: How It’s Typically Made

The process of making Ginja begins with washing Ginjas and removing the stem. The next step in the process is to dry them. When dried completely, pack them in a jar to the point where the jar is one-third filled of its total capacity. The bottleneck of the jar should be large. Now it’s time to add sugar to the jar with a cinnamon stick. Now leave it to rest for an entire day. After it’s done, add aguardente, which is brandy or fortified wine, to it and leave it for about a week to let sugar dissolve and other things merge with each other well. When everything is done, leave it for about a year to enjoy Ginja in the best of its form. Your homemade Ginja is ready. 

If not, you always have an option to buy a bottle of Ginja and have fun. In fact, you get so many options and flavors to choose from. Pick what best matches your palate and taste. 

Ginja Comes From Where? 

Before beginning to talk about where Ginja comes from, understand there are many stories making rounds about its origin and place. It’s the most likely version shared here. 

It was the Romans who brought Ginja trees to Portugal. But the ginja drink is as much a product of the church as the well-known pasteis de nata. The basic recipe that is still in use today was created several centuries ago by a friar at Lisbon’s Igreja de Santo António. He combined sour cherries, aguardente, sugar, and cinnamon and let it settle for a while.

The first time the general public could access Ginja was by a Galician named Francisco Espinheira at his bar in Lisbon. It didn’t take the drink to become a popular choice amongst the locals and was also used as a medicine to cure minor ailments. It quickly gained recognition as a symbol of the nation and the city alike.

How To Drink Ginja? 

Ginja shots and servings are made in shot glasses with a single gray cherry at the base. Unfortunately, a few of our establishments use plastic cups. The waste bins nearby are brimming with trash at the end of the day.

Ginjinha is typically served in a little, edible chocolate cup in Obidos. This is a good alternative, however, occasionally the experience is ruined by the poor quality of the chocolate!

When you go to ginja bars in Lisbon, they will ask you if you would like it “Com ou sem elas” or “Com ou sem fruta” (cherries or fruit). Choose “com elas” if you would want your drink served with a fermented cherry. Choose what you want and how you would like it to be served. 

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Ginja and the Modern Version

When talking about the Classic and Old versions of Ginja, its simple form has always been its beauty. Known to have the way it is, there are still many ways how you can have it. The most common way of serving it comes from Óbidos. Óbidos is famous for producing local Ginja. A few years in history, someone came up with the idea of serving it with a chocolate cup, which was quite far away and twisted from its classic version. It turned out to be a traditional and modern way. 

On Íbidos’ official website, it is recommended to serve ginja “as an aperitif or a digestive after-dinner drink, at a temperature between 15º and 17º (C) or on hot days, slightly chilled.” Additionally, it can be used to make food and cocktails. Portuguese started creating unique versions of mixed drinks with ginja as the main ingredient. To balance the sweetness, a version of a mojito with crushed ice, mint, and soda water works WOW. A ginja tonic is another popular version that combines the flavors of gin, tonic, and ginja just as it sounds.

As you indulge yourself in the pure joy of a Chocolate Cake with Ginjinha, get ready to go on a journey that will entice your taste buds and reveal the rich flavors of Portugal. Even if it sounds something weird, it’s a must-try. 

Some Subtle Benefits of Indulging in Ginja Liqueur

If wondering about some benefits of Ginja liqueur, allow us to give some:

Unique Flavor: The flavor of ginja liqueur is genuinely exceptional. It has a lovely balance of sweetness and tanginess from the addition of sour cherries. Ginja is a memorable and delightful beverage for individuals looking for something unique because of its rich flavor profile, which distinguishes it from other liqueurs.

Immerse in Culture: In Portugal, ginja is highly valued culturally. It came from Lisbon and has come to represent Portuguese culture and friendliness. Ginja is a delectable treat that allows you to connect with Portugal’s history and customs while also fully enjoying its rich cultural heritage.

Versatile Drink: Ginja’s flexibility is one of its amazing features. Its distinct flavor makes it an adaptable ingredient in a variety of culinary dishes, but it may also be enjoyed on its own as a wonderful aperitif. Mixing Ginja into cooking, adding it to cocktails, or adding it to desserts gives any food or drink a unique flavor and refinement.

Helps in Digestion: In addition to its delicious flavor, ginseng is said to have digestive advantages. It is customarily ingested after meals and is said to facilitate digestion and have a calming effect on the stomach. Its ability to aid in digestion adds to its appeal, transforming it from a pleasant beverage into a soothing tonic for the body.


Portuguese cherry liqueur Ginjinha is a symbol of the country’s interesting past and gastronomic customs. From its historic beginnings to the bustling Lisbon businesses and the little distilleries in Alcobaça and Óbidos, Ginjinha never fails to enchant with its amazing flavor and cultural significance. So why not try it yourself? Raise a glass and experience Ginjinha’s enchantment as you go to Portugal through your senses. If not the land of origin itself, get yourself a bottle in any part of the world and indulge in a burst of liquor experience you will enjoy!