Cabinet Beer Baseball Club: David Gonzalez Knows Good Booze
We've featured a ton of blogs here on Short Order, but here's one for the boys that we couldn't help but leak. Baseball, liquor, some literature (for the smart, sensitive types), and more booze. Piqued your interest? Read on.
Rather new to the blogging world, David Gonzalez of Cabinet Beer Baseball Club has mad skills with both words and booze. Plus he's got local street cred, boasting friends such as Adam Gersten and Scott Cunningham, which doesn't hurt.
We got the scoop on what to drink and how to do it like a proper gentleman.
Name: David Gonzalez
Blogging since: January 2011
Day job: English professor
Hometown: Miami, Florida (a local, naturally)
Reason for blogging: "I've always filed booze, books, and baseball in the same part of my brain. It's like, you start talking about these things -- about this crazy-good bourbon you picked up (Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon) or the blindingly brilliant book of poems by a local writer (Emma Trelles's Tropicalia) or Logan Morrison's VORP (pushing 15, in case you're wondering) -- and most people's eyes begin to glaze over. I just wanted a place where I could write about that stuff and, hopefully, people who were interested would come find it."
New Times: How did you come up with the name for the blog and the logo/mascot?
David Gonzalez: As
a writer, I keep all kinds of lists. One list I have is "Titles." Titles for books, movies, websites, TV shows, magazines. Titles of
imaginary businesses like bars or bookstores. Names of bands and the
titles of their albums. That sort of thing.
I was skimming through the
list and I came across "Cabinet Beer." The more I started thinking about
the name, it felt suggestive of that space in your kitchen where you
keep the really good stuff.
As for the mascot, Gabriel Alcala,
lead singer/guitarist for the Jacuzzi Boys, designed it for me. I told
him I was starting a blog about a baseball team of literate drunkards
and I needed a manager for the face of the organization. The minute I
saw the drawing for Mgr Moustachio, I knew he nailed it.
designed this great baseball pennant that I'd love to drum up enough cash
to actually produce. Supposedly he's also working on T-shirts.
How did you grow to love spirits, beer, and wine?
I come from a Cuban-American family that loves the kitchen and the dining room more than any other space in the house. Both sets of grandparents were terrific cooks and so are my parents. Naturally, booze figures into that. My mom isn't much of a drinker, but my dad, he loves his booze. Every house we've ever lived in had a bar stocked to the rafters. He almost always resorted to drinking Scotch or wine, but that didn't stop him from amassing a huge collection.
I remember being fascinated by the bottles themselves, by the different shapes, the color of the liquor, the labels. I really loved the labels -- the colors and the designs. I still do.
I have distinct memories of my father mowing the lawn and asking me to pour him a Scotch on ice. I remember trying to figure out how many of my little kid fingers would equate his three grown-up fingers so I could pour the right amount.
As far as when I really started paying attention to beer and wine, it was after a trip to Sonoma with some college friends. I typically drank cheap beer and even cheaper wine, and I'd always end up with headaches or just had no desire to keep putting these drinks down. I was staying on a friend's couch in San Francisco and he woke me up and said we were going to wine country. It was the first time I'd experienced a "tasting," and being able to taste wines up against each other, I suddenly tasted blackberries and chocolate and crushed pepper and beef jerky and red velvet cake. It was incredible. Each bottle was delicious in its own way.
I realized what I had been drinking was straight swill. Same for beer too. I'm pretty certain that trip to San Francisco was the first time I ever tasted an IPA.
When I came back home, I began attending tastings. I started keeping track of what I liked and didn't like and kept building on that. After every tasting, I'd come home with two or three bottles, then invite friends over to drink them with me.
What's the perfect baseball food?
It's got to be a hot dog, right? I'm not into the idea of gussying up baseball stadiums and providing sashimi or gluten-free turkey club sandwiches or whatever. I'd say it's a hot dog, a bag of peanuts, and an ice-cold beer. You need food you can eat fast and with one hand should a foul ball come screaming in your direction. I even think nachos and pizza are a terrible idea. Anything you need your lap for at a baseball game is a bad idea. Now, if you're tailgaiting, that's a different story.
You tend to feature obscure things. How do you get your hands on it?
I don't think anything I feature is really all that obscure. The initial act of discovery usually begins by me reading something, an article somewhere, a blog post, a cocktail book, a bar menu, whatever. At that point, I try tracking down whatever I can about the drink.
I recently featured a Daisy De Santiago on my blog, a drink that originated in Havana but never garnered the popularity of the daiquiri or the mojito. I came across the drink in a great cocktail blog from Toronto called A Drinker's Peace. It mentioned where the drink was first published (Charles H. Baker's A Gentleman's Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or Around the World With Jigger, Beaker and Flask) and how to make it. I quickly sought out the ingredients and began making them for my friends and family.
Favorite spot to buy drinking goods?
I buy almost all my wines from three spots: Wolfe's Wine Shoppe in Coral Gables, Old
Vine Wines in Little Havana, and El Carajo in Coconut Grove. Booze-wise, I'll
drive to Crown Liquors in South Miami or Grove Liquors on U.S. 1 if I'm
looking for something specific. I recently discovered a Publix (Douglas Road and Flagler) that has a reliable stock of ginger beer in case I'm in
the mood for Dark 'n' Stormys or Floradoras.
Favorite bar in Miami?
That's a good question. I would ask, Your favorite bar in Miami to do what?
There's a certain vibe at bars like Fox's or Magnum that's difficult to find in other parts of the city. Same goes for Mac's Club Deuce on the Beach. Churchill's too. If you can show up before the bands and have a drink in peace, that's pretty special.
Lost Weekend on the Beach has killer sandwiches that go with a killer beer selection, a jukebox, a ton of pool tables, and indoor smoking. It's a sports bar, for sure, but they take their eating and drinking seriously.
But for great cocktails, the bar at Sra. Martinez, the Living Room at the W, and the lobby bar at the Betsy Hotel Miami Beach are topnotch.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.