Our October Featured Libation of the World comes from Obidos, Portugal
It was our first visit to Portugal and our first stop after landing in Lisbon. Obidos is one of the most well-preserved medieval walled towns in all of Europe. The enchanting village is one of Portugal’s top destinations. As we wandered Obidos, we began to see many shops selling Ginja d’Obidos.
After little sleep and it being early in the day, alcohol was not enticing to us. Quickly it became evident we had to sample this popular liquor; it was everywhere! The Ginja is served in an edible chocolate cup; how could we resist that? We fell in love with the Ginja d’ Obidos at our very first sip, and having a chocolate cup to eat after was an extra special treat.
What is this ruby red gem?
Ginja d’Obidos, also called Ginjinha, which means little sour cherry, is an iconic Portuguese sweet and smooth cherry ruby red liqueur that will tantalize your taste buds. It is elegant and robust at the same time, more of a liquid dessert vs. a liqueur. It is made by infusing sour Morello cherries in brandy with some additional sugar and spices. It is much smoother than straight brandy, extremely mellow, and has a deep, lingering fruit flavor and aroma. Caution, though, the sweetness is deceiving; it still can pack a punch as the alcohol content is about 19% for most varieties. Ginja is meant to be sipped so you can savor all the beautiful elements.
Ginja d’Obidos is steeped in tradition and a popular drink throughout Portugal. The creation of the liqueur originates from the ancient recipes of Cistercian monks, using only fresh, natural products and no artificial preservatives. Ideally, it is best as an aperitif or a digestif, preferably neat, in a liqueur glass or chocolate cup, with or without an alcohol-soaked cherry. Though it is popular throughout Portugal, it is especially so in Libson and Algarve region.
It’s the perfect drink for a toast, to celebrate, or to end a delicious meal. Above all, the best thing about Ginja is that it lovingly represents Portugal. It’s a symbol of Portuguese culture and a local product that brings together the Portuguese people and their enchanted visitors.
The Fruit and the Process
The combination of fertile soil and local climate results in fruit with well-balanced sweet and sour flavors, making it unique from other varieties. It has been discovered that the less cultivated the morello trees are, the more astringent the fruit and the better the final product. Because of their aroma and unique flavor, you will find them used in the production of teas and confectionaries as well.
Each peduncle is carefully removed and, once in production, the fruit goes into a hydro-alcoholic infusion, such as brandy, where it remains some months until it reaches the desired result. By its very nature, it is a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience and knowledge. With time, it evolves into an aromatic, smooth liqueur with a full-bodied and luscious flavor.
How best to experience Ginja d’Obidos
Connoisseurs recommend serving it chilled at 57-59 degrees Fahrenheit and, as in our picture, poured into a chocolate cup or straight up. It can be over ice and is the perfect addition to many mixed drinks (our favorite recipe is below).
It is an ingredient with varied uses in food too. Reduce Ginja with a small amount of butter and use it as a poultry glaze. Add some to your cranberry relish to enhance the flavor.
Ingredients are simple: Morello cherries, sugar, brandy, and water. Alcohol content 19%.
Check out some great recipes at Ginga-USA.
Taking Ginja home
Bottles of Ginjad’Obidos are for sale in various sizes, and the cost is very reasonable in Obidos. You will find Ginja d’Obidos often during your travels around Portugal and in the Duty-free store at the airport. There are other Ginja versions, but it seems they are not nearly as popular as the Obidos version. We brought several bottles home and even brought home some chocolate cups to replicate the authentic experience. It is a treasure from Portugal, and you will find you are going to wish you made room for a lot more in your luggage.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out our Portugal Travel Guide here.
Purchasing Ginja d’Obidos in the United States
Based on our research, this can still be a bit tricky. We discovered a company called Ginja-USA who is working hard to bring its product to the states. They have many locations in Texas that offer it but are unable to ship outside of Texas yet. They hope to change that soon. Check out their website on the status of shipping. If you live in Texas or plan a visit, you luck out. Ginja-USA store finder.
There are a few sites online that you can order Ginja d’Obidos from, such as Ginja9. We have placed our first order and will report back on its quality. We hope to serve it to guests during holiday gatherings.
Please enquire with your local quality liqueur store about what they have in stock or what they can special order for you. Large stores like Total Wine, depending on location, can have some in stock. Let us know is find a good place to get a bottle in the U.S.
If you have found a source, we would love to hear about it. Contact us by clicking here or leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.
Check out our article on Obidos, Portugal by clicking here.
Our Ginja d’Obidos Gallery
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Learn more about Obidos, Portugal Check out Obidos Official Tourism Site
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