Cherry On the Top – A Little Winter Warmer on a Cold and Wet New Year’s Eve

January 2, 2013 § 3 Comments


Down by Praca do Comercio on Lisbon’s river front stands a small booth offering cherry liqueurs – completely indispensable for body and soul when the weather in Portugal’s capital acts absolutely British. 

It’s early evening on New Year’s Eve and we’re closing in on 2013. So far while we’ve been here the weather in this beautiful country has been more than mainly dry, however, it seems that today – of all days – the weather is intent on disrupting the party mood by unleashing water from above… By the bucket load! Likewise it seems the streets of Lisbon has unleashed a literal army of umbrella-flogging entrepreneurs congregating in all available door ways from Metro stations to shopping centers. While it does feel just a tiny bit pushy to have all kinds of umbrellas shoved in your face, it does give a welcome change to the usual suggestion of “hash, coke, Rolex?” from the – shall we call them street vendors to be nice?

Bracing ourselves for a few drops of water we safely navigate through the sea of people into the streets. Heading down towards the river through the main pedestrian street grabbing a “duzia” of chestnuts on the way. This particular batch was so-and-so – ok taste, one or two bad ones, but most somewhat under-roasted.

When reaching the Praca do Comercio the rain has waned a bit and come back again and the wind is kicking in as well. A nice big stage has been erected to host a couple of concerts up until midnight – the first of which is still an hour or two away – along with a handful of bars and snack joints also set up for this night. At the moment there’s nobody around but us, the very unbusy bartenders and some very drunk guy teaching the same bartenders about the virtues of some foreign beer – surely they must be mightily interested and equally impressed.

Having taken in the scene we decide to seek a more permanent refuge from the steadily falling rain. A cafe along the side of the square offers us shelter along with an unimpressive coffee and an unassuming glass of fizzy drink. Coffee without taste and fizzy drinks without bubbles aren’t my strongest suit – at least they were both horribly expensive by Portuguese standard. This experience is filed under “Must be because of New Year’s” although I’m in no hurry to re-try the place to confirm. After a while the first concert kicks off completely owerpowering the weird sounds emanating from a homeless guy giving an impromptu concert of his own on something I think was a didgeridoo with a funnel taped on at the end.

Drinks drunk and rain stopped we decide to wander on a bit. At the north-eastern corner of the square resides Ginginha do Carmo – a cherry liqueur stand. And it’s not just for tonight, but every day. So far we’ve only looked from a distance when passing by, but it seems so appropriate to fight off the slightly cold, wet and windy weather with “one for the road” on this occasion. This sweet girl manning the booth happily introduces us to the drops – we get one in a regular plastic cup and one in a chocolate cup – the latter is quite small and comes with a refill – yeah, bonus! On the side we also get a handful of liqueur soaked cherries to chase the shots (or is it the other way around?). Not thinking we’d actually like the stuff we’re happily surprised that we did in fact really enjoy it and we find ourselves properly warmed on the inside to continue our New Year’s Eve…

Ginginha do Carmo also have a proper bar on Calcada do Carmo which we might have to visit at a later point – stay tuned. There’s apparently also a blog:, but I’ll leave that yourself to peak at. The horrible cafe mentioned above was not Nosolo on the opposite side of the square. They did us some coffees with absolutely amazing towers of milk froth which I’ll post some photos of at a later point.


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§ 3 Responses to Cherry On the Top – A Little Winter Warmer on a Cold and Wet New Year’s Eve

  • BrunoH says:

    I loooooooooooooooove Ginginhas 🙂 One of the best ways to discover downtown Lisbon is to go on a Ginja route and to try the different ones that each stand offers. They all taste slightly different but are equally sweet and warm with a punch 🙂

    • 32ltrs says:

      Maybe not a bad idea at all! The weather seems to have turned a little cooler the past few days, so surely reason enough to try… Do you have a favourite?

      • BrunoH says:

        Yes. My favourites are:
        – A Ginjinha in Largo São Domingos. I believe this is the oldest in town.
        – Ginginha do Carmo in Calçada Carmo, the one you’ve also mentioned in your post. It’s a little hole in the wall, very beautiful.
        They are both in Rossio. Apart from these two, every other stand (quiosque) in the city sells them.
        If you have time, get on the train in Rossio and go to Sintra. You’ll also find several there.
        Have fun and enjoy beautiful Lisbon!!

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