Portugal’s wines and ports are world-renowned and you can even find Portuguese beers abroad. But there are some lesser-known alcoholic drinks that, for some reason, haven’t quite made it internationally… yet. I’m a huge fan of Portuguese booze and love introducing friends to different types. Now, I’m introducing them to you! So on your next trip to Portugal, be sure to try these enticing drinks – but, for your sake, not all in one sitting!
Licor Beirão is one of my personal favorites! The recipe behind this spirit is secret (dammit!) but what we do know is that it is made by distilling seeds and herbs. This drink dates back to the 19th century so it is tried, tested and timeless! You can drink it neat, on the rocks, or – my favorite – in a caipirão cocktail. Simply pour some Licor Beirão in a shaker, add some ice cubes and quartered limes (give the limes a squeeze into the shaker before you add them in) and voilà! Easier and, in my opinion, tastier than a caipirinha, this is my go-to cocktail for a dinner party… guests love it! Be sure to pick up a bottle to take home.
You will find Ginja de Óbidos (often called a “ginjinha”) in every traditional Portuguese food & drink store. You’ll also find it in small bars on a night out in Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s bohemian restaurant & bars quarter. This red liqueur gets its color from sour cherries and is sometimes served in mini chocolate cups. Adorable and delicious, it makes for a sweet night-cap. You may also stumble upon Ginja de Alcobaça, a different variety of ginjinha. If you’ve run out and need a fix, order some from DeliPortugal.com. They offer ginja as well as other liqueurs to expat addicts like me.
Ginja de Óbidos falls under the broad label of licores, the Portuguese word for liqueurs. There are so many more varieties of licores that are worth trying. The Azores are particularly well-known for its many flavors. My Azorean favorites are blackberry (amora) and passion-fruit (maracujá), but pineapple, banana and even milk liqueur are popular flavors (yes, milk liqueur sounds gross, but it’s surprisingly delicious). On mainland Portugal, orange liqueur is really taking off and makes an incredibly refreshing summer drink. Orangea is a brand I love! Another personal favorite is chestnut liqueur – very sweet and ideal for sipping on a cold winter night. I pick up a bottle at the airport every time I leave the country. If you stumble upon strawberry (morango) liqueur, such as the one from Meia Dúzia, don’t think twice: get it.
Aguardente is the strongest of all of these at about 35-56% alc. vol. It’s essentially Portuguese brandy or schnapps. The best ones are extremely smooth and may even resemble cognac. If you prefer your drinks strong, aguardente is the tipple you’ll want to take back home with you.
If you’ve been to Madeira, you’ll know all about poncha. It’s a traditional drink made out of aguardente de cana (which is distilled from sugar cane), honey, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice. Nowadays, you can find various poncha flavors, including passion fruit and tangerine, aside from the traditional flavor.
I should probably conclude by saying that if you accidentally overindulge on any (or all) of these adult beverages during your time in Portugal, fear not: I’ll write a post on the best Portuguese hangover cures when I make the same mistake. What’s your favorite Portuguese drink? Comment below!