Ginjinha, or Ginja for short, is a liqueur made from an infusion of sour cherries, also called ginja berries. After a friend from Lisbon introduced us to this delicious concoction, we waited almost a year Pacific Northwest cherries to be in season so we could try to make our own. Our recipe for this liqueur is spiced with cinnamon and cloves to add a spicy, aromatic bite.
Traditionally served in shot glasses for a slow sip with a tart cherry garnish, Ginjinha is also a great ingredient in other cocktails. Try using some in a batch of sangria, or add a bit to your Manhattan for a sweet and spicy twist. As soon as we tried it, Ginjinha quickly became a bar cart staple for its versatility and unique flavor.
- 2 cups Portuguese red wine
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- Half pound tart cherries, washed and stems removed
- 1 cup grappa or vodka
- In a small sauce pan, add the red wine and brown sugar, heat and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cherries to a glass liter jug or container.
- Pour in the grappa and red wine sugar mixture.
- Keep at room temperature and give the bottle a shake a couple times a week.
- The Ginjinha should be ready in a month.
I just made some Ginjinha this year after Covid stop us from traveling to Lisboa. Miss the Ginja there!
It’s best served in small chocolate cups. Love it. Can’t wait to try making it.
That sounds delicious!
Portuguese ginjinha calls for tart or sour cherries, as you point out.
What is your source for these cherries in the Pacific Northwest?
All I can find are Rainier and Bing. Basically, sweet cherries.
My search for sour/tartt cherries in Washington State has so far been……fruitless…….sorry
If you know a source, please educate me.
I believe I found some at Pike Place market. I specifically asked the grocer if they had cherries that were more on the sour side. At the beginning of the season they tend to be on the under ripe and tart. I have also struggled to find sour cherries and have made this recipe using Rainier cherries with equal success.
Montmorency sour cherries can be found in Trader Joe’s or places like it. Actually, you can find them in good grocery stores, where they’re referred to tart cherries.