Our First 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 Europe. The enchanting village is one of Portugal’s top destinations. As we wandered Obidos, we began to see many shops selling Ginja de 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 de Obidos at our first sip, and having a chocolate cup to eat after was an extra special treat.
What is this ruby red gem?
Ginja de Obidos, also called Ginja, 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, 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. 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 de Obidos is steeped in tradition and is 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 Lisbon and Algarve region.
It’s the perfect drink for a toast, celebrating, or ending a delicious meal. Above all, the best thing about Ginja is that it lovingly represents Portugal. It symbolizes Portuguese culture and a local product that brings together the Portuguese people and their enchanted visitors.
The Fruit and the Process for Ginja de Obidos
The combination of fertile soil and local climate produces 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 confectioneries.
Each peduncle is carefully removed, and once in production, the fruit goes into a hydro-alcoholic infusion, such as brandy, where it remains for 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 de 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 recipes are 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. The alcohol content is 19%.
Check out some great recipes at Ginja-USA.
Taking Ginja de Obidos home
Bottles of Ginja de Obidos are for sale in various sizes, and the cost is very reasonable in Obidos. You will find Ginja de Obidos often during your travels around Portugal and in the Duty-free store at the airport. There are other Ginja versions, but they seem not nearly as popular as the Obidos version. We brought several bottles home and even got 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 had made room for a lot more in your luggage.
Are you planning a trip to Portugal? Check out our Portugal Travel Guide here.
Purchasing Ginja de Obidos in the United States
Based on our research, this can still be a bit tricky. There are a few sites online that you can order Ginja e ‘Obidos from. One site called Ginja9 intrigued us based on how they produce the product and source the cherries from Obidos. Of course, we had to try it ourselves before mentioning it to our readers, so we placed an order.
It is a pleasure to report we have a win here!! The Ginja de Obidos from Ginja9 was wonderful. It brought us right back to Obidos, Portugal! They are committed to traditional and quality products. As stated on their website, “Ginja9 was a 92-point winner at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 91 points at the Wine Enthusiast, and more. 100% natural with no added colors or preservatives. Gluten-free and Vegan……. The only one in Óbidos, Portugal, using 100% national Ginjas that allows us to maintain the highest quality fruit and consistent, unique flavor.” After enjoying several glasses, we can say we wholeheartedly agree with the ratings.
When we placed our order, we did not realize they offer chocolate cups on their site. If you know anybody who has spoken of Ginja after visiting Portugal, imagine what a fun gift it would be to get a bottle of authentic Ginja de Obidos and dark chocolate Belgium chocolate cups. They have a gift set available or the chocolate cups as their own item. ‘
Where to order Ginja de Obidos
Check out the Ginja9 website by clicking here. Their products can also be found throughout the US, and they have a search feature on their blog. Their website has some great recipes and a blog to check out too.
We also found a company called Ginja-USA which is working hard to bring its product to the states. They have many locations in Texas that offer it but cannot ship outside of Texas yet. They hope to change that soon. Check out their website for the status of shipping. If you live in Texas or plan a visit, check their website for locations.
It is always worth a try to contact your local quality liqueur store about what they have in stock or what they can special order for you. Depending on location, large stores like Total Wine 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.
May we suggest a few recipes for cocktails with Ginja de Obidos?
Check out our blog post on Obidos, Portugal
Where to stay when in Obidos
Our travel that day was from Lisbon airport to Porto. When we saw the castle and learned it was a hotel too we wished we had made reservations. Later we learned a friend had stayed there and loved it. There are many other accommodations in the area. Lisbon would be a reasonable place as well to spend the night.
It is important to price out properties on various sites. Expedia is a US-based company, whereas Booking.com is Europe based. Not all properties appear on both so check both. If the establishment has a website, check the price there as well.Booking.com
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Learn more about Obidos, Portugal. Check out Obido’s Official Tourism Site
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