Rīgas Melnais balzams

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Rīgas Melnais balzams in the typical bottle

Rigaer Schwarzer Balsam ( Latvian brand name: Rīgas Melnais balzams , English brand name: Riga Black Balsam , shorter names are used) is a traditional Latvian liqueur made from herbs, flowers, oils and berries with 45% alcohol.


The liqueur is black in color and has a bittersweet taste and is made from many (allegedly 24) ingredients according to a secret recipe. Are known as lime blossom , birch buds , honey , arnica and valerian , peppermint , wormwood , Kalmuswurzeln , blueberries and raspberries , oak bark and orange peel , ginger , nutmeg and black pepper . The first storage takes place in oak barrels.

Consumption and Use

Rīgas balzams is enjoyed pure, but also mixed on ice, with juices, with fruit brandies , aquavit or vodka . Also known are recipes in which the balsam is poured hot with sugar or coffee or various types of tea are added. In winter it is often drunk with hot currant juice. In Riga , Rīgas balzams has become a popular drink in the scene when mixed with cola .

The drink is said to have a digestive effect and beneficial medicinal properties against numerous ailments.


The Riga pharmacist Abraham Kunze produced Kunzer Balsam for the first time in the middle of the 18th century , using even older recipes from Riga pharmacies. According to legend, he was able to heal the Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great with his drink when she was in the city and fell ill. As a result, the Riga Black Balsam became known in Russia and the world. For example, Anton Chekhov mentions the “Riga balsam” in his novel A Drama on the Hunt, of course, incidentally, so he can assume that it is known. In the Soviet Union , too , “Rigaer Balsam” was a term that Alexander Solzhenitsyn had to explain in his novel August Vierzehn no more than Chekhov once did.

Today Rīgas Melnais balzams is produced by A / S Latvijas Balzams and is still sold in stoneware bottles of various sizes. Since 2015 the company Latvijas Balzams has been owned by the Amber Beverage Group .

Web links

Commons : Rīgas Melnais balzams  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Anton Chekhov: Tragedy on the Hunt . Translated from Russian by Fegar Frisch. Gutenberg Book Guild, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-7632-2564-1 , p. 26.
  2. Alexander Solzhenitsyn: August fourteen . Translated by Swetlana Geier. Luchterhand (= Luchterhand Collection, Vol. 183), Darmstadt and Neuwied 1974, ISBN 3-472-61183-9 , p. 67.
  3. Latvijas Balzams , accessed June 3, 2019.