Forks and Jets

The true story of a couple or amateur foodie travelogues going around the world


Ginja like a Ninja

June 30, 2009 Portugal


We have already discussed our experience and growing attraction for Port but Portugal has another local drink. Ginja, a cherry liquor, was first made in Obidos but is now more widely procurable.

Hating the experience cherry cough syrup, we found Ginja strong yet remarkably easy on the palette. The flavor has the crispness, and even the tartness, of ripe cherries by being distilled simply from the fruit . Indeed, often the bottles come with cherries floating in the sweet nectar of the liquor and sometimes you can buy the Ginja as part of a package that includes chocolate cups like shot glasses to serve the spirit in.

Some of the most fun were the Ginjarias of Lisbon; tiny stores that sold shots of Ginja. By tiny, we mean 6 feet across and two small steps to the bar. On a warm summer night, you can find Lisboans milling outside these micro bars, giving you a sense of the friendship and warmth that these local dives peddled.

However, while we liked most of our Ginja experiences, there are many cheap and very mean-spirited versions of this alcohol. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware in trying this experience.


  1. Akila says:
    June 30, 2009

    One of my very favorite things in Spain was the shot bars, where they would serve little miniature shot glasses made of ice cream cones coated in chocolate and served with a very strong liqueur. Love that there are places like that in Portugal too.


    • Team Rees says:
      July 10, 2009

      It’s so funny to see a tiny little bar serving just this one drink, just by the shot. Loads of people clutter the sidewalks in front of these places at night — its a real scene! In Spain we noticed a lot of the shot bars too, but in contrast they had HUGE lists of offerings, each more scandalous than the next. Very creative, to say the least. We miss Spain already!!


  2. jen laceda says:
    July 2, 2009

    I’m now pretty certain that I am missing a lot in this world because of my alcohol allergy! On the flip side, I think I’ll miss so much more when I’m 6 feet underground. See my dilemma here? Anyway, this is my brilliant plan: live vicariously through you!


    • Team Rees says:
      July 10, 2009

      You can always travel in the Muslim countries? We just came from Morocco and it was not easy finding a beer, or worth it when you did find one. Of course, Morocco has proved to be our most difficult country yet so maybe living vicariously through us might be a good idea. We just landed in Turkey so we’ll let you know if maybe the Muslims here have balanced good food and culture without the heavy reliance on alcohol to the cuisine.


  3. Julie says:
    July 24, 2009

    I returned from my first trip to Portugal a couple months ago, and even with all the exhaustive research, I did NOT know about ginja before stumbling upon a little hole-in-the-wall place in Lisbon. All I can say is…whew. I can only take it in miniscule widdle sips but my husband and his brother sure had their fair share!


  4. sue navarro says:
    September 20, 2009

    sitting here sipping on my ginja having just returned from Lisbon 3 days ago. alas the 1st experience in Portugal was w/ chocolate & i was hooked. I would encourage that combination as it evokes a tasteful experience like bread & olive oil etc. I’m not a big sweets’ fan but find this better than cherry pie HA .
    they also have this wonderful liquer of almonds. the salesman in the store told us u would not be able to find it in the states. I’m sorry I didnt buy, but didn’t want to hassle w/ carrying back. is anybody familiar w/ drink & where to get in SF?


  5. John Ekin says:
    April 29, 2012

    What a great website… thanks for sharing.

    I work on cruise ships and am fortunate to be able to try many wonderful dishes and drinks as I travel. I adore ginja and always bring a bottle home with me. I agree the best way to learn about a culture is to start with the food and drink!

    I’m trying to find a ginja source (with cherries if possible) that can ship to me here in Orlando, Florida.

    Would be very grateful for any leads…
    Keep up the great work, and hope our paths cross one day!


    (ps- I have a very modest little blog of some of my travels here if you’d care to look; yours is an inspiration!:


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