Brandy Rand

Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer

Doli-er Than Thou

Published in the Summer 2012 issue of BostonCommon-Magazine.com

Like a beloved regular, the glass jar of intricately stacked pineapple rings  dominates the bar at The Capital Grille. If you’ve passed through the doors at  least once, you’ve likely been seduced by this made-in-house elixir. It’s both  potent and magically soothing upon first sip. This regular has launched copycat  versions around the country and inspired other bars to create their own  infusion, but there’s only one true Stoli Doli, created right here in New  England.

This pineapple-soaked libation has endured through the eras of Cosmopolitans  and candy-flavored vodkas with a simple recipe created in the late 1980s. It all  began when John Martin, now president of The Capital Grille, visited a bar in  Newport that served vodka and pineapplejuice shots. The flavor profile  captivated him. At the time, most martinis were strong, often for the heartiest  of drinkers. So Martin, along with Ned Grace, founder of The Capital Grille,  decided to polish up the shot and turn it into a smooth-tasting martini.

They started by using premium Stolichnaya (“Stoli”) vodka and eventually  settled on fresh Dole (“Doli”) pineapples flown in directly from Hawaii. After  much experimentation, they discovered the vodka became naturally infused with  the sweetness of the fruit in a mere seven to 14 days. The combination also lent  itself to a playful name—the Stoli Doli—and made its debut on the menu in 1990  at the first Capital Grille in Providence. Now a staple at more than 40  locations nationwide, the Doli’s impact is widespread, especially in Boston.

“Let’s just say it was the drink of the times,” says Howie Rubin, general  manager for Bauer Wine & Spirits on Newbury Street. He fondly recalls when  The Capital Grille opened in 1991 across the way from his store. “It was a mecca  for everyone who lived and worked in the neighborhood. You’d walk in, eyeball  that jar on the bar with the rings of pineapple floating in it, and join the  crowd of thirsty Doli-ers.”

Even today at its new location at the Hynes Convention Center, The Capital  Grille shakes up approximately 350 Stoli Dolis a week. The recipe has remained  unchanged, weathering fancy flavored martini fads right through to the current  classic cocktail culture. Even with the trend toward brown spirits, vodka is  still king at the bar in Boston. “Time and again, the Stoli Doli proves itself  to be a customer favorite,” confirms Christopher Scott, managing partner for The  Capital Grille in Boston.

Despite the cocktail’s appearance on other bar menus across town and several  do-it-yourself versions online, The Capital Grille’s Stoli Doli is a true  original that can’t be replicated. So some Boston bartenders have taken to  creating their own unique infusions, like the lemongrass-infused Grey Goose Le  Citron at Red Lantern or the house-infused horseradish vodka at Brookline  Village’s Stoli. L’Espalier reserves a special tequila infused with Dundicut  peppers from Pakistan (as hot as Scotch bonnets) for fire-loving customers. In  the South End, The Gallows makes several funky flavors, including banana- and  spice-infused vodka. Infusions have moved beyond vodka now, so carnivores can  sink their teeth into the Fig’n’Pig at Post 390 with bacon-infused house-smoked  Bulleit bourbon or Towne Stove and Spirits’ Back-Bacon Manhattan made with  bacon-infused sweet vermouth. Too adventurous? Stick to the drink repeatedly  given national Best Cocktail accolades, the original Stoli Doli.

The Capital  Grille, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., 617- 262-8900; 10 Wayside  Road, Burlington, 781-505-4130; 250 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-928-1400;  One Union Station, Providence, RI, 401-521-5600

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This entry was posted on August 7, 2012 by in Boston bars, Boston Common Magazine, vodka, WBZ Radio and tagged , , .
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