Cabinet Beer Baseball Club: David Gonzalez Knows Good Booze
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.
He also 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. Supposedly.
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.
What are you drinking right now that you can't get enough of?
I recently came into some real-deal Havana Club rum (not the Bacardi-brand Havana Club) and a 1935 reprint of the bar menu from the Floridita Bar in Havana. As you might imagine, there's not enough rum in that bottle to try out all the drinks I've dog-eared.
What booze blogs do you follow?
- Embury Cocktails: It's named after David Embury, author of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.
- The Spirit: More mainstream, full-on website than blog, but features tons of recipes.
- SoFla Beer Blog: I know Dave. He's a great dude, and the man knows his beer. For real.
- A Drinker's Peace: I love booze blogs that provide biographical info. ADP does that in spades.
- Vinography: I love their wine-reviews archives. So simple.
- Extra credit:
David Wondrich's Twitter feed (@DavidWondrich). He's the author of Imbibe!, one of the best history-of cocktail books hands down. He writes for Esquire and recently wrote a piece about drinking at La Floridita.
I've never given much thought to what my cocktail would be. Maybe I'd call it the Moustachio Special, and maybe it would have egg white in it so when you drink it, you'd get a thin little fuzz above your lip. I really love gin, so it'd definitely have gin. Maybe something aromatic, like elderflower. Maybe nutmeg-infused simple syrup. And egg whites. Something like that.
Naturally, I just searched those ingredients and saw that it's similar enough to a Ramos Fizz, a drink conjured in New Orleans in the late 1880s that, by all accounts, is a colossal pain in the ass to make. Which of course means this'll have to be my next pet project. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Write something fun for the readers that's drink-related -- a poem, haiku, anything.
There's no shortage of prominent drinkers in the world of writers, so it'd be hard to choose just one. Suffice it to say I recently went through a pretty serious "noir" bender that I haven't quite recovered from. I was reading Chandler and I came across this little jewel from The Long Goodbye:
"I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar -- that's wonderful."