black magic in riga

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It was in this very apothecary that a pharmacist concocted a remedy to cure Catherine the Great after she fell ill while visiting Riga. Riga’s Black Balsam is a mixture of 20+ ingredients (i.e. herbs/roots/oils etc) mixed with vodka and is said to cure over 100 diseases. It is now added to desserts and drinks.

As we step through the front doors of “Riga Black Magic”, the décor catches our eye before the display of chocolates and sweets do. Just inside to the left is an apothecary counter, and to the right a library with beautifully upholstered armchairs.

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There is a hidden passage behind a bookshelf, there are flasks and glass bottles on the beams and along the walls.

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Walk a little further in, and we are in an era when there is no electricity and the only light comes from the flames of candles. But the dimness does not create a sinister ambience. Although, the idea of being in a “black magic” bar could conjure up images of potions and concoctions, it is in fact, the contrary; with the classical music in the background, the atmosphere, to us, almost feels like an elegant dinner party.

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In the back room, we take a seat on a comfortable lounge and staff in medieval costume take our order. We can now sit back, sip our hot chocolate, absorb our surroundings and rest our feet after a day’s walking around the old town.

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What a lovely little place to visit: to taste delectable chocolate, Riga Black Balsam or for a sticky beak of the fit-out. Add “Black Magic” to your list if you are ever in Riga.

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41 thoughts on “black magic in riga

    Savvy Kenya (@savvykenya) said:
    July 25, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Did you take the magic concoction? The Black Balsam.. did it taste magical hehe

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 25, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      We actually didn’t taste it at this place… (how random, we know) but we had it at another cafe with some ice-cream! If you can call potently bitter “magical” then it was VERY magical 😉 LOL

    White Postcards said:
    July 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    We love places that take us back in time, this certainly fits the bill!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 25, 2014 at 12:05 am

      Yes it does 🙂 We love it even more when we ‘stumble’ across it!

    My Little Rio Journal said:
    July 24, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    What a beautiful and cozy place! Looks like you travelled back in time! ; )

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 25, 2014 at 12:04 am

      It felt like we did go back in time. Hope you are taking care! Thinking of you xx

    thetravellush said:
    July 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    This place looks amazing. And I love that it has a secret passageway! I wouldn’t mind trying some Black Balsam, seeing as it cures over 100 ailments and all 😉

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      Yes!! That was our thinking… To cure 100 ailments, it must be good 😉 thanks for swinging by 🙂

    Curt Mekemson said:
    July 24, 2014 at 6:22 am

    A hidden passage behind a bookshelf? Count me in. 🙂 –Curt

    Vlad said:
    July 24, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I now want to visit Riga based on this place alone! Stunning pictures, I was sold the moment I saw the hidden passage 😀

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 24, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Vlad, you make us smile!! Glad to hear that we are inspiring a few other travellers to Riga already – that’s a good start 🙂 Latvia has a few other gems which we will need to get writing about in future posts! Stay posted!

    Packing my Suitcase said:
    July 24, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Definitely on my list!! I surely will visit this interesting place when I go to Riga, I loved those different things 😀 thank you guys for sharing!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 24, 2014 at 2:41 am

      There are so much fun, right?! Hope you do get to Riga one day to check it out 🙂 Have a great Wednesday!

        Packing my Suitcase said:
        July 24, 2014 at 5:09 am

        Me too!! Next opportunity I will 😀 thank you, you too…enjoy your trip 😀

    katpegimana said:
    July 24, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Wow, looks amazing. Hope hot chocolate was delicious.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 24, 2014 at 2:40 am

      It was delicious! Not too rich or too sweet… just perfect 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

    CrazyChineseFamily said:
    July 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    This looks really great. Guess at some point I need to visit Riga as well 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      Yes, add Riga to the list 😉 This cafe was a great place to break up the ‘sightseeing’ !

    the eternal traveller said:
    July 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    What an exquisite little place and so much fun to visit. That chocolate counter would be my first port of call.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      Heheh… It was such a great little spot for us to unwind! The attention to detail was magnificent!

    kayrpea61 said:
    July 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    You are certainly digging up some interesting and amazing experiences.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      We hope we keep finding more 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

    worldjourneysdiscover said:
    July 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Hey! I’ve nominated you for the ‘Versatile Blogger Award’! Go here to find out more! (sorry if you’ve already been nominated!)
    https://worldjourneysdiscover.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/versatile-blogger-award-nomination/

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 24, 2014 at 12:08 am

      Thank you so much for the nomination 🙂 We have been nominated for this several times and are honoured every single time!! Always a good way to learn about fellow bloggers. Congrats on being nominated!

    Rosanna said:
    July 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I wish I’d known about this place when I was in Riga (although that was a few years ago now). It looks so atmospheric! I’d like to have some black balsam again too. 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      It was beautifully decorated and the atmosphere was just right for some fun… Not too over the top and definitely not too subtle!

    nancy1 said:
    July 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

    OOOH! What a wonderful place ,hot chocolate looks good, my mouth is watering. Keep the pics coming, love Mum and Dad XX

    Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:06:59 +0000 To: mrsnancymoss@hotmail.com

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      It was a great place to have a break 🙂 Just a little find for us but apparently it is quite well known. Certainly wasn’t busy when we were there, thank goodness!

    Mani (A New Life Wandering) said:
    July 23, 2014 at 6:17 am

    What a cool place! I have no future plans to go to Riga, but if I ever go I’ll definitely check this place out. I wish European style hot chocolate was more common in the US, I don’t really like American hot chocolate hehe.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Yes, hot chocolate in Australia is very sweet – we prefer European hot chocolate too! It goes down perfectly 🙂

    Expat Eye said:
    July 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Personally, I’m not a fan of the Black Balsam! The blackcurrant variation is OK though. Waiting for a friend to come and visit before I go to that place – thanks for the preview and hope you’re having a good time! 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      The balsam is rather strong in taste! We tried it in ice cream elsewhere, just had to seeing as it cured ‘everything’ 😉

    priyanka said:
    July 23, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Wow . It seems like a mysterious place . Beautiful pictures 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 3:53 am

      Oh it was simply intriguing and mysterious (but in a good way, not in an eerie way 🙂 Thanks for reading!

    mamta chakravorty said:
    July 23, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Reminds me of Harry Potter’s meeting at Hogsmead.. I think I saw an owl’s cage in one of your snaps as well 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Yes!! There is a cage in a few of the corners… places like this are quite enchanting! 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!

    LyndaS said:
    July 23, 2014 at 3:16 am

    That is so cool! In addition to the hot chocolate, I would definitely want to try Riga’s Black Balsam.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 3:18 am

      Hi Lynda – We tried it at another place mixed with ice-cream and it’s pretty potent tasting 🙂 The cafe/bar was very cool! Hope you are well.

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