Tag Archives: Bellini

The Rickus Cocktail Bar/Restaurant – The new Cocktail Bar in town…

Pre-amble

So last time I wrote about a cocktail bar, it was a top notch bar up on the London Bridge promenade. This time it’s a newly opened bar down on the south east Kent coast; Rickus (near the old town in Margate)…

Now I don’t like to show bias, but in all honesty I’m fully behind this venture, owned, run & staffed by Lituanians (or so my sources tell me) this bar/restaurant, along with the new hotel right next door, has become the most recent addition to the Thanet coast rejuvenation project (albeit unofficially).

But onto the whole point of this post: THE COCKTAILS!

Now by the time I had the funds for a decent outing (you cannot just have one cocktail afterall!) the bar had been open for a few weeks and I’d had plenty of ‘word of mouth’ reviews:

“great cocktails, the ones with baileys in are amazing!” – My friend & co-worker Steph.

“we went last week and the cocktails are amazing value for money – the food was good too!” – My friend and co-worker Josh

So those were just a couple of the times they bragged on about this bar, and boy did they brag. So in typical Cocktail snobbery I set off for a taste test of my very own. Armed with the two above people (and Steph’s Daughter) I was determined to try a varied selection. I was looking for their methods, the choice of spirits, the spirits they used in the cocktails and of course the cocktails themselves. Shortly you’ll see I’ve given them a rating for both the cocktails and the service. The cocktails I tried were;

–          The Sea Devil,

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A great combination of cranberry, tequila and lime this cocktail was by far a nice surprise…

A fruity, but crisp, tequila based concoction which also used cranberry juice. The first cocktail of the evening; my thought process was to try something a little different and a little out of my comfort zone (I rarely drink tequila after all). This drink was made quickly, but properly and tasted great. There was just enough juice to cover the tequila’s unpleasant flavours (it was Sierra’s Blanco Tequila and we all know the kick I’m on about) but not so much that it was too watered down.

–          Peach Bellini (x2)

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Whilst your’s might not look like this, it will taste as good as it looks!

As the name suggests, this was a cocktail modelled on the classic bellini recipe, using peach liqueur as well as peach puree, giving the drink a little extra intensity. By far the most impressive on the menu, this cocktail cost £6 and boy do you get a lot for your money. Most places will offer you a champagne flute with peach puree and topped up to, about, the ¾ mark (if you’re lucky) with champagne. Rickus, however, supply a large (it was massive) wine shaped goblet and sure it’s not champagne they use, but the sparkling wine used was fantastic with the sweet peachy taste of both the liqueur and puree. Garnished with a physalis berry (which was slightly over-ripe and sour – they should be a little less sour and sweeter to taste – but that’s the snob in me coming out) and in the girls’ case a handful of strawberries this drink was by far their best offering.

–          Pina Colada

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Pina Colada, with a great view of the beach… Sure why not!

The last cocktail of the night was a classic, sure, but one many places can ruin very easily (which is ridiculous as it is an easy cocktail to make). I’m afraid to say that the use of a blender was lacking (which is a big shame as that’s half the point of making a pina colada) but that aside the drink was shaken enough to mix in the ingredients (well enough to be drinkable anyway!).

As for the reviews, I will now say a little about the service, followed by the cocktails and overall impressions…

The Service:

Waiting time: Overall the waiting time for our cocktails was more than sufficient, they were not too quick as to rush the preparation; equally they did not take too long (and ruin the dilution of the drink). They served the cocktails well and always the drinks were of a good quality. 10/10

Attention to detail: all the recipes they had to make were done from memory and were constantly cleaning and talking to each other. I got the impression it was an organised environment and they were wuick to help each other out (passing ingredients etc…). 9/10

Customer relations: Listened and understood our orders well, and were always happy to help. They were very fair and served us all in order (they kept track of their next customer well and I do not remember them making a mistake). At one point they did run out of limes, but were extremely pleasant and told customers this, stating a short wait was necessary. 10/10

Cocktail knowledge: They created all the cocktails we ordered from memory (if they were reading a menu the other side of the bar they hid it well) and supplied fast relatively efficient drinks (although some recipes could be improved). 8/10

The Cocktails:

Ingredients used:

The ingredients used where, for the most part, correct to the classic recipes. However in some cases they have changed them and tweaked certain other recipes (like using peach liqueur as well as peach juice in their Bellini or coconut syrup instead of milk in their Pina colada). Whilst some of their cocktails do suffer (see the Pina Colada review below) others prosper extensively (see the Bellini review below).

Quality of drinks:

Overall the cocktails at Rickus were surprising. Not being disrespectful but from a glance at the menu you just wouldn’t expect the quality to be as high as they were. Using syrups galore and tweaking recipes where required some of the cocktails do suffer (as said above) but the interesting point to make is that their bellini is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The best thing I can suggest is for you to go there and try the cocktails for yourself…

Individual:

This section is all about the cocktails, and what I thought of them. An overall score will include these and where possible will look at the ingredients in the drink, the visual end product, the techniques used in the production and of course the taste…

Sea Devil: 8/10

Bellini: 8/10

Pina colada: 6/10

Overall impressions:

Menu: 3/10

The menu is a bunch of well printed (but unprotected) paper held together by the clamp on the clipboard they sit on. It’s a shame as they have not created a nice little unique menu. The menu is the first thing customers will really look at in a bar

Décor: 10/10

The Décor is something special: The medieval looking maps on the wall of both eastern Europe and the UK/Thanet are unique to say the least. The Décor is warm and welcoming, but if you fancy a cocktail outside their perfectly positioned balcony can offer stunning views of the sunset over the sandy Margate beach.

Cocktails: 7.3/10

Overall the cocktails are good, although some suffer from the lack of the proper techniques. However they do serve one of the best Bellini’s I’ve ever had and their choice of alcohol behind the bar is quite good considering its dainty size.

Service: 9.25/10

The service was fantastic; the bartenders are friendly, helpful and more than happy when you order off the menu. Their knowledge was good, making the cocktails ordered without the need for prompts and to top it off, they improvised well when some of the garnishes ran out, keeping up the professional look of the cocktails being served. Very impressed with the overall service and would definitely go back on this point alone.

Overall: 7.4/10

Rickus Cocktail Bar & Restaurant is a very welcome change of scenery to the excess of pubs and ‘gastro-pubs’ that keep popping up. The cocktails are extremely good value for money as well as a great atmosphere. Go with some good friends and it will be one of the better nights you could have. Friendly staff, great atmosphere, great value for money and when you leave the first thing you want to do is plan your next return-visit. A great addition to an otherwise bland seafront, Margate (as well as the Thanet area in general) could benefit from more ventures like this.

Verdict: Must see, try the Bellini’s, they’re something a bit special!

 

Champagne cocktails – more than just Bellini’s and Mimosa’s

A Bit About Champagne:

So you’re on your way to a party/event at your friend’s house, you’ve been looking forward to this for your entire week. It’s their 21st birthday and you know they have a cocktail party planned. But you hope they don’t expect you to drink champagne. You hate champagne.

As you walk in you are offered a flute glass full of a colourful bubbly liquid… Oh crap. You hate champagne you hear yourself say, but there is something different. You take a leap of faith and try the drink. You’re hit first off with the horrible champagne flavour you’re more than accustomed with but then something different, something floral, is it apple? No, Elderflower, and the distinct taste of raspberry. The light pink hue should have given it away, but you thought it was that novelty pink champagne. Then you notice everyone’s drinks… Greens, blues, reds and more pinks like yours.

“I hate champagne…” you hear yourself say “…But I love this”…

Before we continue… I would like to make it very clear that Champagne is a sparkling wine with a geographical protection (like stilton cheese, and those Cornish pasties) and this means that the word ‘Champagne’ is only aloud to be used by companies making sparkling wine within the ‘Champagne’ region of France and other companies that do not stick to this region are, by law, not allowed to advertise their product as a champagne. There are some fantastic products out there that are not allowed to ‘honour’ of being called champagne, but in my opinion are far better in quality. No matter your feelings on sparkling wine, find a product you like and try some of the recipes out.

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Champagne has a long standing reputation for the glamorous a sophisticated…

I have a friend I work with who will do almost anything for his favourite branded bottle of champagne, even more so when they are on offer (you know who you are!). In a complete contrast I stand in opposition; preferring a supermarket brands Prosecco, Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference (TTD) Prosecco Conegliano to be precise.

In my experience, the protection ’champagne’ has allows companies to charge ridiculous prices for their rather bog-standard product (with the exception of some of the more well-known brands). Reverse-wise some of the best Italian Prosecco and other worldwide sparkling wines are just as good as some of the lower scale champagnes. So for the remainder of this blog, whenever I use the word champagne I do not just mean champagne, I mean sparkling wine in general.

Champagne cocktails are as much about enjoyment as they are about flavour and appearance. No one wants to drink foul tasting cocktails, and I know a lot of people that do not appreciate champagne enough to disagree with the post’s opening scenario… However there is more to champagne than serving the bottle’s contents in a glass and forcing everyone to drink it. Champagne although not primarily made for it, is a fantastic cocktail mixer. It has a better depth of flavour than lemonade and is generally a better choice than the foul soda/tonic waters flooding the supermarket shelves.

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A glass of champagne is all about glitz and glamour. If you’re handed a glass of champagne at a party, socially, you know you’ve made it…

This brings us onto the cocktails themselves and there are many varied, famous cocktails. Almost all of which hold some sort of colourful back-story as to how they were invented, however for the premise of this blog I am far from interested in the stories. I’m more interested in the cocktails and their recipes. Now discarding the recipes with what I like to call ‘dangerous’ ingredients (ingredients people generally shy away from when making cocktails at home; such as egg whites), the recipes to be discussed here are generally fruity, floral drinks with a very easy-to-consume nature about them.

The Cocktails:

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The best thing about cocktails can be their colour and ‘WOW’ factor. Champagne cocktails have this going for them more so than any other cocktail…

We’ll start with the classics like the Kir Royale and the mimosa. Then go onwards to the lesser known and more complicated cocktails; such as the Clicquot Rico and Shanghai Fizz.

The main thing to remember with these cocktails is that they can be expensive to test at home (champagne is very expensive and even some of the cheaper cava’s can cost around £10 per 75cl bottle) so you may want to try a few out and about at first to get an idea of what flavours you prefer, then you can cut the cost a little.

“A smart drinker is a happy drinker”

Top Tips:

1)      Whilst no ice is used in champagne cocktails, you should chill the champagne in the bottle thoroughly prior to use.

2)      Unless otherwise stated these drinks are built (poured in one by one) in the serving glass.

3)      Whilst using cheaper alternatives to Champagne (Prosecco, Cava etc…) is perfectly reasonable, where necessary, champagne brands that are in the original recipe for the cocktail will be named (i.e. the Veuve Clicquot in the Clicquot Rico). Feel free to still use the cheaper alternative if you want/need to.

Mimosa

2 measures Orange Juice

1 measure Champagne

This drink is the one cocktail everyone thinks of when you mention Champagne cocktails. The Mimosa is thought of as a bit of a light cocktail – purely because of the lack of any serious amount of alcohol. This is not really a bad thing as it makes it perfect for those fancy soirees where you want to keep guests sober for the majority of the night. However the downside is that whilst it is simple, it can become rather boring rather quickly (not to mention people who have an Orange Juice allergy – it does exist and is more common than you might believe).

You may be part of the majority of people that believe a Bucks Fizz is the correct name for the above recipe but, sorry to say, you would be very wrong. If you lower your gaze all shall be explained:

Bucks Fizz

2 measures Orange Juice

¼ measure Plymouth Gin

1 small dash Cherry Brandy

Top Up Champagne

Now this is the true bucks fizz. Rumour has it this was made back in the 1920’s for a captain ‘Buck’ and named after him. Of course nobody knows for sure, but little stories like this always add something special to a drink. The Bucks fizz as you can see is similar to the Mimosa and this is why the confusion becomes popular. Whilst Supermarkets sell bottles of ‘Bucks Fizz’ you’re actually drinking a Mimosa (that’s a little quiz fact for you right there).

Shanghai Fizz

20ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

35ml London Dry Gin

15ml Lychee Syrup

1tbsp Sugar syrup

Top up Rose Champagne

Shake the first 4 ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top up with chilled rose champagne, then garnish with a white orchid petal (this is a bit uppity but it really shows some class, however a white rose petal will do just fine).

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Red is the colour of passion, and none is it more so than in a Rose Champagne cooler. Enjoy the class, but enjoy the flavours more so…

Bisou Bisou

25ml Cognac

1tbsp Vanilla Sugar

1 passion fruit, you just need the seeds.

Top up Champagne.

This cocktail adds a little tropical flavour to your otherwise classic champagne cocktail. It’s surprising what a little passion fruit and a splash of vanilla sugar…

Bellini

25ml Peach Puree

Top up with Champagne

The more inventive people reading this will want to blend up their own, but it is equally as acceptable to use pre-made puree (try funkin’ white peach: http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=2490))

Top Tip: It’s best to use the shallower cocktail glasses as opposed to the traditional flutes purely because it’s easier to keep the puree mixed in with the champagne in the shallow ones.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

This is the original champagne cocktail, and is by far the most ‘old-fashioned’…

1 white sugar cube

2 dashes of Angostura bitters (or bitters in a flavour of your choice)

20-25ml Cognac

Top up with champagne.

Dab the sugar cube with the bitters and drop into the flute. Then add the cognac and then add the champagne just before serving. Fill completely.

This cocktail is a fantastic example of the classic cocktail culture, the different levels and depths of flavour help make this drink what it is. This is a cocktail you should all try. Even if you don’t like it you can say you tried one.

Kir & Kir Royale

25ml Crème de Cassis

1 sugar cube

Top up with sparkling wine (for a Kir)

Top up with Champagne (for a Kir Royale)

Pour the Cassis into the flute, drop the sugar cube in, and once it has soaked up some of the cassis (once it goes purple) add the sparkling wine/champagne.

This drink gets sweeter as you drink it and is rather popular among party goers…

Here’s a little fact for you: The Kir and Kir Royale are pretty much the same drink. The only discernible difference between them is that the Royale uses Champagne and the Kir uses sparkling wine. Obviously the Royale was used to impress guests of over pretentious party hosts, allowing them to let everyone know they had enough money for quality champagne and not just any old sparkling wine. Whilst back in the early days of sparkling wine production champagne was most certainly the best quality, these days certain sparkling wines are just as good as, if not better than, some top champagne brands…

 Prosperity

25ml Gin

1tbsp crème de cassis

2tsp Elderflower cordial

25ml Golden grapefruit juice

Top up with Champagne

This cocktail is a little more complicated but the flavours more than make up for it. You shake the 4 ingredients in a shaker over a little ice and strain into a flute glass. Top that up with champagne and you have a very floral fruity, but tart champagne cocktail.

Top tip: Try switching up the elderflower cordial for St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, and the cassis for blackcurrant cordial (Ribena is a good shout) for various, subtle flavour changes.

The last 4 cocktail recipes are more hybrids of other cocktails mixed with champagne… not all work but some, some are fantastic. These are the latter…

The Mimosa Wallbanger

50ml Orange Juice

12.5ml Vanilla Liqueur

12.5ml Vodka

Top up with Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Prosecco Conegliano

One of my own recipes, this cocktail is a perfect blend between a Mimosa and a Harvey Wallbanger. It adds a small amount of extra class to an already suave drink. The added fizz makes it a little more refreshing and tad-lighter on the palate…

Peach & Gin Champagne Fizz

12.5ml Gin

12.5ml Peach Schnapps

Top up with champagne

Whilst no the most exotic and original of names, this cocktail blends stronger alcohol with the champagne to give it a little kick, but adds the fruity peach flavour to help make it taste a little bit fantastic.

Ginger Champagne Cooler

3 Strips of pickled ginger (use fresh ginger if unavailable)

2 tbsp. Vodka

Top up with well-chilled quality champagne.

This cocktail spices things up a bit and adds a little fire into your drink. Not for the faint of heart, this drink will catch you unawares and punish you if you’re not careful. Drink it responsibly and you’ll love it.

Perfect for a cold autumn night (or a fancy summer shindig).

Bellini Blue

15ml Peach Schnapps (i.e. Archers/Teichenne)

15ml Blue Curacao

Top up with a quality sparkling wine.

This cocktail combines both the classy Bellini with that cult favourite liqueur: Blue Curacao. This drink becomes a citrusy, fruity bright blue cocktail. Serve with ice cold sparkling wine…

Clicquot Rico

25ml White Rum

50ml Pineapple Juice

Top up with Veuve Clicquot Champagne

This cocktail may seem a little old fashioned, but that’s the beauty of it. When combined with ice cold champagne, the otherwise dull rum and pineapple comes alive. It has a warming feel thanks to the rum, and a slightly exotic feel thanks to the pineapple, add in the champagne and you have pure class.

Top tip: Veuve Clicquot is rather expensive (£30+ in most supermarkets, even when on offer). Another option for those on a budget is a light and refreshing Prosecco (Try Sainsbury’s TTD Prosecco Conegliano – it works quite well).

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All the ingredients you need for a Clicquot Rico, just add rum. Try using different rums (white, gold, spiced, dark) and find your favourite…

Next time on the Fervent Shaker Blog:

“So why are supermarkets tapping into the cocktail market?”

“Is there any need for this tapping up of liqueurs by the big supermarkets or are they just out for profit?”

“Do supermarkets indirectly aid the rising popularity in cocktails across the UK?”

“What role do supermarkets play in the current state of the UK ‘cocktail scene’? And what part will they play in years to come?”

All these questions and more, coming in the near future with my blog post:

“Supermarkets & Cocktails: A bitter truth or sweet dream?”

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Asking what roles the supermarkets are playing in the UK cocktail culture. An important question for all those with an interest in the cocktail culture here in the UK…

I’ll be looking at the growing part supermarkets are playing in the cocktail culture of the UK. As well as trying to shed some light on how flexible their choices are when it comes to the products they sell… Between now and then keep an eye out for cocktail recipes; I’ll be posting individual recipes as I find/try them. Keep mixing folks!