Make us your home page
Instagram

Capital Grille bar serving retro cocktails to benefit Tampa landmarks

Throughout September and early October, Capital Grille is promoting the “Cocktail Conservation Society Lounge Event Series,” benefitting four historical Tampa landmarks -- the Tampa Theatre, Tampa Union Station, The Cuban Club and The Italian Club. Through Oct. 6, if you order a Mule, a Strawberry Mojito, a Pimm’s Cup, a Real Dill or a Rye Old Fashioned, a portion of the proceeds go to those historical buildings. Luis Santana/tbt*

Throughout September and early October, Capital Grille is promoting the “Cocktail Conservation Society Lounge Event Series,” benefitting four historical Tampa landmarks -- the Tampa Theatre, Tampa Union Station, The Cuban Club and The Italian Club. Through Oct. 6, if you order a Mule, a Strawberry Mojito, a Pimm’s Cup, a Real Dill or a Rye Old Fashioned, a portion of the proceeds go to those historical buildings. Luis Santana/tbt*

Alhambra is a word that I had to look up before writing this column. A press release from International Plaza's Capital Grille informed me that an upcoming cocktail series was modeled after "Tampa's Golden Age as the Alhambra of the South."

And so I learned that the Alhambra is a Spanish palace originally constructed in the ninth century; an iconic structure that has inspired architects around the world. The context, then, is the legacy of influential architecture in Tampa from the early 20th century that are the specific focus of a monthlong event dubbed the Cocktail Conservation Society.

The series, which began Sept. 9, is built around five cocktails typical of 1920s Tampa. We're deep into the classic cocktail revival now, so these should sound mostly familiar: The Moscow Mule, Pimm's Cup, Strawberry Mojito, Rye Old Fashioned and the Real Dill.

Each week through Oct. 6, a different Tampa landmark is honored, with a portion of profits from these cocktails donated to their preservation. The first is Tampa Theatre (Sept. 9-15). Then, Tampa Union Station (Sept. 16-22); the Cuban Club (Sept. 23-29) and the Italian Club (Sept. 30-Oct. 6).

I stopped by the lounge at the Capital Grille to preview a couple of the cocktails before the event launch. For those unfamiliar with it, the Capital Grille is an upscale steakhouse chain with locations scattered across the country. It's a high-end destination, the kind of place that most would reserve only for special occasions. It is, in a word, opulent.

If the menu prices suggest a certain degree of exclusivity, then that's also reflected in the environment. The Capital Grille feels like a high-society clubhouse, with high ceilings, white-clothed tables, dark, polished furniture, wooden vertical blinds, oil paintings and lots of stuffed animal heads (which I could do without), all complimented by a jazz and big band soundtrack.

The beer selection is minimal, made up of a handful of typical bottles. The wine selection is the complete opposite, with a list that dwarfs any I've seen. There are more than 30 available by the glass and more than 500 by the bottle, including several premium selections priced well into triple-digit territory. These are stored in an eye-grabbing, cellar column that extends from floor to ceiling in the center of the lounge.

The year-round cocktail menu consists of 11 smart takes on various classics, such as a Gin Rickey infused with sweet basil; an "adults only" Arnold Palmer made from iced tea, house-made crushed mint lemonade and Skyy citrus vodka; and a Grapefruit Buck, a mixture of Absolut Ruby Red vodka, elderflower liqueur, Campari, ginger beer, and lime juice. The list is fairly modern, but like most cocktail lists, it's built on a foundation of the early 20th century standards.

The Cocktail Conservation Society menu could have been lifted directly from a cocktail book from that era. Drinks like the Moscow Mule and Strawberry Mojito are as popular now as they ever were, and the versions served here are simple and classic. The Old Fashioned is given a slight twist here, substituting Old Overholt rye whiskey for the typical bourbon, which adds a dry spiciness to the cocktail, which is then balanced out by a splash of orange bitters.

The two I focused on were the Pimm's Cup and the Real Dill. The Pimm's Cup is a classic British refresher, and this version is one of the best I've had, with Lorina sparkling lemonade used in place of 7-Up, and a garnish of thick lemon wheels, a cucumber slice and a mint sprig so large it could double as a collard leaf. During the summer, this is simply the ultimate cooler.

The Real Dill is slightly more complex, balancing sweet, sour and savory through a mix of American Harvest organic vodka, lemon and lime juices, agave nectar, cucumber and dill. The garnish is a cucumber slice topped with fresh dill, which is a great visual, and aromatic, touch.

That sales of these throwback cocktails would benefit such classic Tampa structures as the Tampa Theatre, Union Station, Cuban Club and Italian Club seems appropriate enough, and the old-school opulence of the Capital Grille lounge — which itself wouldn't seem out of place in 1920s Tampa — is quite a fitting venue. — jg@saintbeat.com

The Capital Grille

2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 830-9433, thecapitalgrille.com.

The vibe: A high-end steakhouse and lounge with a clubhouse feel.

Food: Appetizers, soups, and salads, $9-$19; entrées, $29-$49; desserts, $9-$10.

Booze: Beer, $5-$7; wine, $9-$20 by the glass and $30-$900 by the bottle; liquor, $9-$14 for most selections, although some high-end scotches and cognacs are a bit more, such as Macallan 30-year at $75 and the usual suspect, Remy Martin Louis XIII, at $195.

Specialty: The voluminous wine list is clearly a matter of great emphasis at the Capital Grille, and it's absolutely worth a look, as is the normal cocktail list, which features several unique drinks, such as the Stoli Doli, a vodkatini made from house-infused pineapple vodka, poured from a large vessel at the center of the bar filled to the brim with slabs of fresh pineapple. However, through Oct. 6, the Cocktail Conservation Society menu is a must. All five drinks on this menu are top-notch, and a portion of the profits help to preserve some of Tampa's most iconic and historic landmarks.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Capital Grille bar serving retro cocktails to benefit Tampa landmarks 09/12/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 1:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Despite Pride success, Grand Central business owners upset over losing parade

    Events

    The Grand Central District was packed with people Sunday, there to enjoy the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    Patrons eat lunch and cool off inside of the Community Cafe during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival along Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times

  2. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  3. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  4. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]