Make Ahead

Sour Cherry Liqueur - Ginginha

December 10, 2009
11 Ratings
  • Serves 1 bottle
Author Notes

Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing sour cherries (Morello cherries) in Aguardente which is a Portuguese Brandy. Ginjinha is served in a small glass with a cherry inside and is a typical drink in Lisbon.
Making liqueurs is like a therapy – the maceration period, the recipe which each family has a tradition, bottling it with the new moon, stories that are passed down from generation to generation. But the greatest pleasure is when you bottle the liqueur after a few months and serve it although some bottles are a few years old. I think it's a really nice gift for Christmas, especially with your own label on it. —Maria Teresa Jorge

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups sour cherries (Morello cherries)
  • 1 1/4 cups Aguardente (Portuguese Brandy) or Grappa
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  1. Wash the cherries and leave some of the stems for taste. If you can't find sour cherries use normal black cherries a bit unripe.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, warm the red wine and add the sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a 4 cup container with a tight fitting lid add the cherries, the cooled wine and sugar, the cinnamon stick and the cloves. Add the White alcohol (either Aguardente or Grappa) and close the jar tightly.
  4. Let infuse 1 month in a dark place, giving it a shake every 3 or 4 days.
  5. Discard the cinnamon and the cloves, bottle the liqueur, adding a few cherries to each bottle and close the bottles with a good fitting cork. Serve in small glasses either as an aperitif or at the end of the meal. In summer you can serve it chilled.
  6. Will keep several years if you don't drink it meanwhile, which would be a pitty.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Maria Teresa Jorge
    Maria Teresa Jorge
  • Aliwaks
  • AntoniaJames
  • Ricky Guevara Toureiro
    Ricky Guevara Toureiro

11 Reviews

kcscb June 27, 2023
Help...did exactly what recipe said, but cannot get the brown sugar to dissolve! Went ahead and combined all, but the sugar kerps settling to bottom of jar. Was 2 cups correct? Seems like a lot to dissolve in 1/2 cup wine. Thoughts? A month to go, but nervous.
Christine C. July 3, 2023
The sugar didn’t melt for me until I really heated the wine. I was doing a big batch so all was tripled, but it did eventually blend in, after much stirring on the stove. Hopefully if you keep shaking it up, it’ll eventually combine.
Maria T. December 4, 2011
There is no diference between these 3 drinks except that two are made in Portugal and one in Italy.
On the other hand, he similarity of these 3 drinks is that they are all between 29% and 60% by volume.

Aguardente and Bagaceira are the same thing and have several varieties. Aguardente vínica is distilled from wine, either of good quality or undrinkable wines. It is mostly used to fortify wines such as port, or aged in oak barrels to make aguardente velha (old burning water), a kind of brandy.
Aguardente bagaceira is made from the fermentation and destillion of the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes, the same way vodka, tequila and grappa are made.

Grappa is the same type of drink, also made by fermenting and distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes. It was originally made to prevent waste by using these leftovers.

If you had looked on the internet, you would have found the answers, although I admit a bit more time consuming then correcting a missing l in a italian word.
opinionated A. May 16, 2012
I cannot agree here. Aguardente is a designation like the Middle European schnap[p]s or the English liquor. If not specified, it doesn't really specify the spirit, neither the taste.

Usually it is used regional.

And well - to put grappa and brandy in one bag, is also a huge stretch, as they are so different. Even worse: what has vodka to do with this [usually made from grain], or tequila [made from agave]?

What you really want to specify, is the taste of the base spirit. Do you want to have it neutral - then use vodka or neutral [grain] spirit [you could use Everclear], if you don't have the aguardente handy. If you want to have it a bit rough with a bite and with a fresh vegetal taste, white grappa is your choice. Smoother with vanilla and other roast aromas is any oak aged spirit like brandy.

Personally I would choose a rather neutral spirit - as you want to have the fruit stand out and pomace based spirits are usually quite a big gamble, as aromas can turn unfavorable "funky".

Anyway - it is important, to educate properly. Aguardente [as schnapps or other stuff] are not protected, and usually low in quality [and most of the time very domestic]. Grappa, Marc, Trester [all pomace based] but also Tequila and some specific brandies like Cognac and many other spirits, underlying a lot of laws, which protect the quality and the user - they have a guaranteed origin. Don't mix those up!
Ricky G. December 14, 2018
Is it ok then to call aguardente moonshine?
Maria T. December 14, 2018
Hi Ricky,
Aguardente (agua + ardente) literally means water that burns. The moon part has only to do with the time of bottling - during the new moon period.
linomioni December 4, 2011
What is the difference between Portuguese Brandy, Portuguese Aguardente and Grappa?
Aliwaks December 17, 2009
I have a similar family recipe for Visniak (sp?) from my Romanian greatgrandparents...we use sour cherries too with scotch or brandy. I've found the cherries to be an excellent addition to a Manhattan.
Maria T. December 17, 2009
Now this is what I love about sharing recipes, imagine I thought this was totally Portuguese and suddenly you also have it in Romania. Cooking is getting better by the day!
AntoniaJames December 10, 2009
Another winner. Looks so yummy. Thanks so much for posting this -- and every recipe you post!!!
Maria T. December 10, 2009
Thank you. Hope you can make it.