What is Grogue?

You may have heard the word ‘grog’ used to mean any one of a range of alcoholic drinks. What you probably did not know is that in Cape Verde there is a very specific and well-loved drink called grogue. This has become a stylish favourite for visitors to the islands.

Grogue is made entirely from sugar-cane. The sugar-cane plant is put into a trapiche, which presses it, reducing it to a liquid. This is then fermented and distilled to become an alcoholic beverage. This process has been done for hundreds of years by the people of Cape Verde.

Trapiche in a village in Santo Antão

The best grogue comes from the sugar-cane of the Green Valley in Santa Antão

Traditional artisans lead the way in the production of grogue. These makers usually cook down the pressed sugar-cane in an old oil-drum, rather than in state-of-the-art distillery equipment. Because of the traditional means of production, there are hundreds of different versions of grogue. Each has its own taste and alcohol content, which can range anywhere between 50-80%.


Grogue is a sweet cordial-like alcohol, which has many uses in Cape Verdean culture. It is used for cocktails, a particular favourite among locals and visitors is Pontche. Local molasses and fresh lime are added to the grogue. The dark syrup makes the drink even sweeter whilst the lime refreshes the taste.

Many Cape Verdeans swear by grogue’s medicinal properties. With the addition of rosemary, rue or anise, the mixture can be used to clean wounds or help with digestive problems.

In 2009 BBC 3 radio presenter Lucy Duran visited one of the distilleries.