National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Latvian tipples



When toasting with a hearty ‘ priekā!’, Latvians look less often to the mighty grape than to spirits infused with birch, cranberry and other local flora. Most bartenders keep a bottle of the local vodka-based, black balsaminfu­sed bitters, and serve it with heated blackberry juice and cinnamon for a version of the hot toddy.


Latvia’s largest winery, family-run Abavas, 40 miles west of Riga, offers tours and tastings of its sweet rhubarb wines and slightly fizzy ciders. They pop up on menus across the country, in upmarket establishm­ents such as Barents wine bar in Riga.


One of Latvia’s top microbrewe­ries, Labietis produces 40 varieties of beer, classified by their strength, from the simple Grey Family of 5% ABV lagers and ales to the 10% Purple Family. Labietis operates in a former factory enclave off trendy Miera Iela road that’s recently emerged as a hub for beer halls.

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