The second last time I went to the Ritz Cinema I wanted to spend all my time in its cocktail bar whereas my date just wanted to see a film. Unfortunately my date won the argument, but I still think I had my priorities straight – after all, the Ritz Lounge Bar is one of Sydney’s quirkiest and most unorthodox bars.
As with the cinema building itself, Bar Ritz stands out for its art deco architecture. To be honest, the room doesn’t feel like a cocktail bar at all (more like a 1920s cinema snack bar) but it’s so unspoilt that sitting amongst its curved pastel yellow walls is a little surreal. If only they got rid of the tacky cinema-style carpeting (which doesn’t go with the elegant backlit marble bar they installed) and dimmed the lights a little, this would feel a lot more sophisticated.
Then again, they might not be aiming for sophistication judging from the cocktail menu, which is simply a laminated piece of paper. Most of the drinks here are standards but have been renamed after movies – the mojito, for example, is called The Mexican (even though the drink hails from Cuba), the martini is called the Golden Eye and a Long Island iced tea is called Requiem for a Dream (although, now to think of it, that probably is an apt name for this intoxicating drink).
I order The Mexican and am pleased to find out that, because it’s a Thursday night, the drink is only $9 (cocktails are usually $13, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Unlike a usual mojito, this is made with bitters as well as lime, mint and Bacardi, and served in a tall glass. Unfortunately, however, it’s nowhere near sweet enough (I suspect the bartender, a young guy wearing shorts, didn’t taste it before serving).
I then go back and order the Bad Education (aka the margarita) and a different, older bartender makes this one. Thankfully this is much better. It’s not great – it doesn’t have a whole lot of flavour and is a little too sour (making me wish they’d rimmed it with sugar rather than salt) – but for $9 I’m not complaining.
Most people here are either young women or couples waiting for a movie to begin and I notice most are drinking wine or beer, which might be the safer option. Bar food is also available, although the last time I ordered food here it was brought in from a nearby takeaway, so tonight I stick with alcohol. If you’re hungry, however, then the options include salt and pepper calamari for $9.50 and satay sticks (four are included) for $9.50.
The other thing to mention is the balcony. To be honest I’m not sure why I like this balcony as much as I do, since the view is only of the street below, but just sitting outside the cinema’s grand façade with the old neon light above you somehow feels grand – especially on a hot summer’s night.
Despite its name this isn’t the ritziest bar in Sydney – or even Randwick – but it is endearing and unique. Even if you don’t plan on seeing a film, it’s still worth popping in for a quick drink, especially if it’s a Tuesday or Thursday.
Ritz Lounge Bar, 39-47 St. Pauls Street, Randwick. Phone 9399 5722, see www.ritzcinema.com.au. Open Monday to Saturday from 5pm, Sunday from 3pm. It can also be booked for functions.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Ritz?