Liqueur of Arbutus (Medronho in Portuguese)

medronheiro“Medronheiros” are plentiful all over the Iberian Peninsula, but they are found in most abundance on the north side of the mountains of Algarve.  The fruit of this tree, the “Medronho” is a small round, red fruit (once ripe),  that tastes a bit bitter and it is not usually eaten as a fruit in Portugal.  Here in the US it is also known as lychees.This tree is known in English as the Strawberry Tree, but medronhos do not taste like strawberries, the only similarity is the fact that they have their seeds on the outside of the fruit.  Once fermented and distilled these fruits make a very nice “aguardente de medronho” (firewater or “eau de vie” of arbutus.)  I just read an article in “Cafe Portugal” about Luis Sequeira, who not only makes this particular drink, but has experimented with it by adding honey and chocolate.

His new creation are the chocolates he calls “Mon Cherry à algarvia” – I am definitely looking forward to tasting some of these on my next trip to Algarve.  

Aguardente de Medronho:


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