black balsam

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.


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.


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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