If you are planning to visit Lisbon, Portugal, you will certainly run into a hole-in-the-wall shop selling shots of “ginginja, ” and, if you are anything like me, you will probably wonder what this stuff is, and why people seem to be drinking it all day long… To answer your inevitable question, ginginja, also known as ginginha or ginja, is a sour cherry liquor native to Portugal, particularly central Portugal around Lisbon and the town of Óbidos. Ginginja is 100% Portuguese and you will not find ginginja anywhere else!
Ginginja is typically served cold in a shot glass with a boozy sour cherry at the bottom. It’s not as strong as a regular shot of liquor and it’s mild enough to sip rather than shoot. Definitely try it (and buy it if you want a bottle to take home) in Lisbon, as ginginja is less popular in other parts of Portugal and more difficult to find. For example, ginginja shops are rampant in Lisbon but almost impossible to find in Porto (three hours north of Lisbon).
Shots of ginginja cost between 1 and 2 euro and are most often sold out of tiny, unsuspecting store fronts around the city. And by store front, I mean store front. Mist ginginja shops do not have any room to sit, or even a bar at which to stand. Yep, the below picture is actually a larger-than-normal ginginja shop!
The most famous place to try ginginja is at A Ginjinha (note the spelling difference!) in the corner Praça dom Pedro IV (on the corner just past the McDonalds). A Ginjinha serves shots of ginginha for €1,40 and bottles for €11,00. To order a shot of ginginja, you just walk up to the window (there is no inside) and order how many you would like. Drink your ginginja outside the kiosk and return the shot glass when you are done. Cash only. Since this is the most popular place in Lisbon to try ginginja, there is often a line, especially in the Summer.
If A Ginginha is crazy busy, or if you just want to try something different, another tasty ginginja store (and my preferred ginginja store!) is Ginginha do Carmo. Ginginha do Carmo is located just outside of the second floor of the Rossio Train station. Basically, walk straight out towards the staircase hearing up to Chiado. Ginginha do Carmo is located at the bottom of the stairs. What I think makes Ginginha do Carmo so special is that it serves its ginginha in chocolate cups for €1,65, and since the chocolate cups are smaller than regular shot glasses, you get two pours! Regular shots of ginginja are also available for €1,35, but who doesn’t want a chocolate cup?
You can buy ginginja to bring home, but know that the caps are twist off and can leak on the plane. The bottle that we brought back leaked a very tiny bit but was still fine to drink when we got home.
STEAL OUR TRIP
A Ginginha: Largo São Domingos 8, 1100-201 Lisboa, Portugal. Open daily 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. No reservations. A Ginginha is truly a hole in the wall and there are no seats. Shots must be drank standing outside. Full bottles sold to go. There are a couple other ginginja shops near A Ginginga if it’s too crowded.
Ginginha do Carmo: Calçada do Carmo 37, 1200-090 Lisboa, Portugal. Open daily 1:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. No reservations. Like A Ginginha, there are no seats and shots must be drank standing outside.
On A Budget
You can’t really get more budget than this, unless you buy a bottle and split it with your friends.