The Left Door – is the right door for a great bar night
It is time for the adventure at my favourite bar in Riga. The Left Door is really the left door of a restaurant concept where you find a bar in the evening. Behind the right door you will find a restaurant and high quality coffee place. It is one place, one owner and two nice concepts seamlessly stiched together. The place is located in the beautiful Art Nouveau district of Riga and the interior is rather elegant.
After entering the bar we received a pleasant greeting. It was my first bar adventure in Riga and like always I couldn’t wait and so it was quite early. We found a comfortable seat at the bar and I started to take a closer look. The bricks of the walls are grey, the furnishing is mainly black, it has a cosy atmosphere. There is some decent decoration but the eye-catcher is the illuminated back bar. Furthermore there are some tables and niches to take a seat and enjoy some food with the drinks. It is always nice to have a restaurant attached and you get a bit more than the common nuts and nibbles. They serve with the drinks a nice assortment of cheese popcorn, savoury and fruit spits. For those who like to sit outside there is a sitting area in front of the bar.
My preferred seat is at the bar. The hook for the bags have the right size for the survival handbags of women. The jackets will find their place on a coat rack. From where I sat I had a nice view to a lounge area hidden behind the bar. But first we took a look into the menu. Nice menu with the same wood structure like the bar counter and full of nice and innovative drinks. I focused on the signature drinks and the black balsam that is a typical spirit of Latvia. It is a herbal liqueur made with roots, herbs and flowers and mixed in pure vodka. I would assume that it is Stolichnaya because they are both made in the same distillery. The taste is like strong coffee, sweet and bitter at the same time. “The traditional recipe was created by Abraham Kunze, a pharmacist living in Riga, and is based on a composition of 24 different plants, flowers, buds, juices, roots, oils and berries prepared in oak barrels. It is sold in ceramic handmade flagons. Over time, Riga Black Balsam has been acknowledged also internationally, as it has received more than 30 awards at international fairs. It has been made in Riga since the middle of the 18th century. According to legend, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, became ill during a visit to Latvia, but was cured after drinking Riga Black Balsam.”
For that reason my drink of choice was the drink “Rico” and last but not least the author of this award-winning drink Juris Ķēniņš were behind the stick. What a well balanced cocktail with a phenomenal taste.
The main spirit was the black balsam with 42% vol, the classic one and the currant flavoured. Together with muddled coffee beans, almond syrup, lemon and red wine the concoction became strong and smooth at the same time. My taste buds were treated very nicely. My company opted for the “Tennessee Beer” served in a beer mug. Interesting but to sweet for our palate. The selection of glassware is nice and individual. The drinks will be served on metal coasters or on black napkins. These napkins are of a better quality than the common ones that look ugly after a few minutes and stick to the glass. Homemade syrups, ingredients and homemade vermouth are a perfect idea to pimp the rather mainstream selection of spirits. I asked the bartender about the brands because I didn’t see any specials. There is no demand and people do not want to pay for brands they do not know. The drinks cost around 9 Euros. Also there are more student bars around and they prefer coke or orange juice with their booze. It seems like the bar scene in Riga is not established yet as in other well known bar spots. They use bitters only for two years now and before that Angostura was even hard to get.
The most stunning thing, I did not expect, was the hospitality. We were treated so nicely, got many information and Juris showed us the whole place. Together with the service they provided us a lot of information of the city and country, and inspired us to rent a car. We felt really welcome and appreciated. That were a lot of impressions and we finished off the evening with a classic “Martinez” and “Daiquiri”.
We started with this bar and we ended our trip to Riga with this bar. I love bars with kind and skilled bartenders, relaxed atmosphere, beautiful interior, well balanced drinks, good music in the background and comfortable bar stools. This is exactly what you will find here.
And this is the reason why we returned to this place a second time. Due to the fact that it was Saturday more bar staff was present. Just as heartening and friendly like the visit before and pretty well dressed. I was yearning for another “Rico”. Again this lovely taste but I asked for less ice. The ice cubes are crystal clear like in all bars I had been. They all come from a company making the ice for the ice sculptures. I put myself in the hands of the experienced bartender Marko and he prepared me a nice cocktail flight. We continued with a concoction of gin and absinth, followed by a very tasty rosemary something gin sour. My last drink was tequila based and served in a small bucket with crushed ice to keep the temperature. It was closing time and time to say goodbye with a big hug and “Thank you” for an unforgettable adventure.