Printed from:
2023-03-24 08:00:03

S.Brevinga Beer and Whisky Bar

DINING -> Bars
By Howard Jarvis. 21.09.2011

Tirgoņu 4 , Riga Mobile: 2834 8716
Working hours: Mon-Sun 12:00 - 24:00

The unique selling point here is, as suggested by the name, a vast range of Scottish whiskies to keep even the most shivery of sporrans warm. Located prominently at one end of Dome Square with seating outside attracting large numbers of passers-by during the summer months, the S.Brevinga Beer and Whisky Bar will hopefully do better than its short-lived predecessors on this spot, the French restaurant Le Paon Bleu and the medically themed eatery Hospitālis.

Its unique selling point is, as suggested by the name, a vast range of mostly Scottish whiskies that would keep even the most shivery of sporrans warm. Around 65 of the 85 single malts kept proudly on display behind the bar cannot be found anywhere else in Latvia.
But don’t strain your neck and eyes trying to read the labels. Peruse the printed whisky list, which has been compiled by experts rather than haphazardly accumulated, or ask the bartender if your favorites are among them.
We discovered that of our treasured smoky whiskies, Ardbeg was there but Laphroaig was not. In Brevinga’s brave push for inclusivity, however, that has probably changed since we last visited.
The rare whiskies even include some from distilleries that have already closed, such as Gordon & McPhail’s woody Inverleven from 1991, aged for 15 years and bottled in 2005. To give an idea of prices, a small glass of this costs €6.
All are available to buy by the bottle in the shop to the left as you walk in, and you can sample a drop before purchasing.
Standing alone at the corner of the bar is a big, shapely bottle of genuine, clear samagon – local moonshine – made in Latvia’s eastern province of Latgale according to a traditional Russian recipe handed down through the generations. Available to buy by the shot or by the bottle, it’s powerful stuff at 55 percent alcohol by volume and has a sour raki-esque taste.
The beers at Brevinga have a similarly exclusive feel, with more than 20 flowing from the taps and many more available in bottles. A handful of them are from small breweries in Latvia – try the dark and heady Bruveris or a sweet, light and non-filtered beer from the town of Madona.
But the vast majority come from breweries in England and Scotland, Belgium and Germany. Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale, which is intense, dark and slightly spicy, from south-eastern England, the elderberry-infused Ebulum Black Ale, and Kelpie Seaweed Ale from Scotland with its fresh aroma of the sea are among the best beers available by the bottle.
There are a couple of strong British ciders on tap too – a cloudy creation by Addlestones and the hard-and-dry stuff from Blackthorn.
Drinking is not the only pleasure on offer at Brevinga. A limited range of international dishes is on hand to accompany the beer, from the light – Greek salad, for example, at €4.50 – to the heavy – a massive chunk of pork steak on the bone, at €8.
The old Soviet staple chicken tabaka, a smallish bird flattened and fried in a special pan, can be ordered for €7.20. Desserts include variations on whatever fruits are in season.
As the whiskies are imbibed to take off the chill of an autumnal Baltic evening, remember the centuries of history, tradition and attention to detail that have gone into creating all the varieties of Scottish whisky. After trying a few, you may start to see the huge reproductions of Impressionist masterpieces by Renoir, Manet and Van Gogh that adorn Brevinga’s walls blur a little. In their place you’ll begin to feel the highland winds on your face and the heather below your kilt.