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,
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)
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
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…
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 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…
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
Pina colada: 6/10
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
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.
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.
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.
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!