If you’re in Riga, a shot of Black Balsam has to be top of your list. This drink is available in every bar there. It’s a traditional Latvian liqueur made with herbs mixed with vodka, and it’s strong – 45% abv.
I was heading to Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs, an awesome traditional cellar bar in Old Town Riga but there was a large group outside and I somehow got pushed into the bar next door, HHC – Hardcore Hangover Club. I ordered a pint of Heineken (don’t judge) and a shot of Black Balsam.
I sipped the shot and could immediately taste the herbs. It definitely had a strong kick to it! I washed it down with the Heineken which I recommend to do. It wasn’t as bad as people had warned me. I could have done a few shots of this but even after one shot and the beer I felt the effects. In the winter the Latvians mix it with blackcurrant which I didn’t get time to try but it sounded nice.
If you want to feel like a local I suggest trying a shot to get the taste and then mixing it with blackcurrant or even in a coffee!