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Why Are the Portuguese Drinking Poop Liqueur?

You don’t need to speak much Portuguese to recoil in horror when a scan of the booze aisle reveals "Licor de Merda." Wait, what? "Liqueur of Poop"? Why would anybody drink that?

What’s more, this scatologically-named tipple crops up everywhere from the drinks lists of hipster bars in Lisbon to the dusty shelves of old-school watering holes across the country.

So far, so disgusting. It really does beg the question: WTF?

It’s muddled with limes, sugar, and ice to take the place of cachaça in the traditional caipirinha and make a caipimerda (yes, bartender, make mine a caipishit please!). It’s even introduced into one of Portugal’s favorite desserts, mousse de chocolate, to make a mousse de merda. That’s right, a ‘mousse of shit.’ And they’re not the only ones enthusiastically eating and drinking this merda.

The drink is consumed with gusto in Portugal’s largest former colony, Brazil, and upmarket Lisbon drinks exporters Garrafeira Nacional say that Luxembourg and Switzerland also have quite the appetite for the sick-sounding beverage.

So far, so disgusting. It really does beg the question: WTF?

 Lucy Bryson

Fear not, gentle readers, the Portuguese and their overseas pals are not actually knocking back shots of poop. The drink, which arrived on the scene in the 1970s, is more delicious than dirty. Its light brown hue can be attributed to cacao rather than kaka, and it’s combined with milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and citrus fruits to make a 20% ABV drink that’s an awful lot more palatable than the lavatorial name suggests.

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What’s with the “crappy” name?

It actually came about as a satirical joke back in 1974–the year of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, when a near-bloodless coup was staged to overthrow the authoritarian government. In a year when public figures on both the left and right side of the political divide were widely derided, the drink was created in the town of Cantanhede, Coimbra, as a satirical homage to the politicians of the time.

Nuno Lopes de Paula, a Lisbon tour guide and local expert for insider website Lisbon Spotted by Locals says: “It started as a ‘prank’ drink, possibly made with leftovers from other bottles, but it became very popular across the country, it tastes like a mix of vanilla, cinnamon, and banana. Because of the jokey name, it’s easy to find in parts of Lisbon that are packed with students, such as the bars near the university campus in Alameda. Many bars in the Bairro Alto also have it.”

Garrafeira Naciona

Although the name came about as a joke, Licor de Merda is a serious business, and can be enjoyed everywhere from hole-in-the-wall tascas in rural backwaters to trendy Lisbon bars such as Cinco Lounge and Sky Rooftop Bar, and at the chic sidewalk tables of the Baixa.You can sip this not-so-poopy confection under the sun or stars at many of Lisbon’s kiosks, or pick up a bottle (an excellent souvenir!) for around $12 from liquor stores nationwide, notably Garrafeira Nacional, which has branches across the country and has created a small booze museum just a few steps from Lisbon’s iconic Santa Justa lift.

Cinco Lounge
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