Black Magic - Magic of the Riga balm
During its February of hotel travel to Riga, I by chance got into one anturazhnye institution dedicated to the Riga balm. Local interior so much that the next day, I went back there with a tripod to take pictures and to tell you about the magic of Riga balsam.
The famous Black Balsam Riga has always been a hallmark of Latvia. Even in the nostalgic days of the USSR, when the best resort Jurmala Union was, and in the kitchen Spidola receiver played cheerful melodies Lighthouse, many Soviet citizens stood in the cupboard cherished clay bottle (full or already empty). At home a souvenir, too, I was driven and I once thought that the contents of the container is a cozy, like a vase, should be probably very, very tasty. As it turned out, in its pure form Riga balm tastes just unbearable, but the history of it over a long and interesting ...
In the heart of Old Town, near the Town Hall Square, and features a stylish restaurant - Balsam Bar "Riga Black Magic". Since its opening in 2007, this bar has become a local landmark. Many tourists are here not only to taste the famous Latvian balm, its variations and cocktails, but in the atmosphere of the 18th century to learn the history of the famous drink.
style of old pharmacy magic bar is located in the same building, which in the 18th century, housed the institution Riga pharmacist Abraham Kunze, a man of legend "invented" Riga Balsam.
The enterprising Rigan Abraham Kunze was producing the beverage according to the recipe of the 17th century, which was then called by the name of its manufacturer, that is, "Kunze Balm". Initially, the famous Latvian Bitter was created as a medicine.
In the 18th century Riga Balsam was a sort of vodka infusions of herbs and was very "weak" - a total of 16 turns. Then, the balm consisted of 75% of the aromatic water, 22% alcohol tincture 5 and 2, 5% saffron tincture.
During a visit to Latvia Catherine II Abraham Kunze presented Empress balm as a cure for colic. Catherine had a medicine for the soul, and it is granted the exclusive privilege of the Riga druggist for the manufacture of balsam.
Russian merchant Sergey Lelyuhin began collaborating with Kunze, bought his patent and established delivery balm in Russia. Since 1789 from Riga every year dispatched 300 thousand ceramic bottles to the Russian Empire. So thanks to Catherine Riga Black Balsam came into fashion at the Russian court and became increasingly appear on the tables of the nobility in Russia, and later the whole of Europe.
In the 40s of the 19th century was the balm produced industrially on a starter-alcohol factory Alberta Volfshmidta.
By the time the drink has already ceased to be positioned as the only drug, has changed greatly in the formulation, I purchased 45 degrees strength and became more like a modern balm.
Riga balm is traditionally produced in ceramic bottles to protect contents from sunlight and extreme temperatures. A drink recipe is always kept secret, and at the beginning of the last century was known only to the German master Schrader brothers.
When in 1939, the year of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Baltic states who gave Union and Hitler's order for the repatriation of Latvian Germans Schrader left Latvia and taken to a secret recipe, the story of Riga balsam interrupted for fifteen years.
Only in 1954, thanks to the efforts of technologists of the enterprise "Riga factory of alcoholic beverages" (now Latvijas Balzams) began to drink again released. Masters of the plant step by step, through trial and error, and all kinds of chemical analyzes have restored the original taste of a lost recipe. It was taken as the standard remaining portion unrealized balm.
Today, as before, the exact recipe of the Riga Black Balsam is unknown to the general public. It is only known that it contains the ingredient 24, 16 of grass - mint, ginger, lemon balm, linden flowers, gentian root, nutmeg, irgu, hyssop, valerian, saffron, cinnamon, etc...
And the characteristic bitterness of the balsam not from wormwood, as some think, but from the 30-day aging in oak barrels and adding balsamic kidney rare species of birch, which grows on the Latvian marshes and listed as endangered. But even in the balsam includes caramel syrup, blueberry and raspberry juice, French and Armenian cognac, natural honey and balsamic Peruvian oil.
Today the company "Latvijas Balzams" released three versions of the drink (see photo from left to right.): RIGA BLACK BALSAM - the classic version of balm (45%), RIGA BLACK BALSAM CREAM - a variation on the creamy taste, a la Bailey (17%) and RIGA bLACK bALSAM cURRANT - balm supplemented with blackcurrant and ginger (30%). But Riga Black Magic Bar - it's not just a place where you can taste the balm and the many cocktails on its basis, it is also a wonderful dessert.
There is also a chocolate shop, which regularly conduct workshops on the preparation of chocolates and pastries handmade.
And in a secret alchemical laboratory show tourists secret preparation "Riga Black Balsam". The path to the secret lab course is through a secret door disguised as a bookcase heavy door ...
... go down the wooden creaky stairs ...
In the basement Riga magicians Gennady and Elena Palchevskie conducted a two-hour performance dedicated balm. And in the end of the show awaits visitors tasting balm alone or cocktail with chocolate truffles and cakes.
Here is a mysterious interior, complete with "ghost" visitor who has decided to look into the frame. Special city bar - this is an illusion recreated 17th-century evocation. During the presentation there appears himself "Abraham Kunze."
Workshop alchemist filled with all sorts of "magical" little things. For example, according to the drawings of the 16th century it has been recreated here such water "perpetual motion" - the water in this design pours continuously without any mechanical devices.
In the metal bowl to throw a coin for good luck, make a wish, and then rub the handles. If on the surface will be a ring-shaped ripples, so wish will be fulfilled.
The interior of the bar laid out in detail so that everything here is reminiscent of the old days of Riga 18-th and 19-th century: soft lighting, antique furniture, brick walls, and even on a shingle roof.
The decor of the bar used a variety of different-sized bottles.
It took half a year to implement the project. Antiques for interior design collected from different parts of the world.
This old cash register came from Britain.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures of the bar staff, and all the girls here go in dresses with crinolines.
are purchased in the magical bar balm for gifts - not the best idea. Although the bottles bought there will be beautifully packaged in a branded box, the price here "bite" as compared with the rates in conventional supermarkets because of the surroundings have to pay.
By the way, ceramic bottles do not protect against counterfeiting balm. For example, in 1997, it was identified adulterated Riga black balm, closed plastic tube, strength 50, 4% vol. instead of the 45%, with the content of the bottle, does not correspond to the Latvian beverage.
In addition to alcohol, the bar visitors are treated with adrenaline. Tell the details I will not, do without "spoilers", and then a visit to this wonderful place will be even more interesting.
Incidentally it is worth noting that the Riga balm included in the annual "Handbook on drugs", intended for the Latvian doctors. And the purpose of it is very blissful - balm is used as a remedy for depression.