Cabinet Beer Baseball Club

We're like a library with a warning track. Or a bartender with reading recommendations. We eat, read, sleep and drink. We write. We live in Florida.

A Puppy Picks Your New Favorite Short Story

Gabriel Garcia Marquez No One Writes the Colonel & Other Stories (Bard, 1973)

Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of the Cabinet Beer Baseball family, Mr. PJ Bottoms. He’s a five month old terrier/cattle dog mix who was found abandoned behind an elementary school, sleeping on a pair of PJ bottoms.

We picked up him, asked him who his favorite south American writer was and when he answered, “Marquez!” we knew we had found our pooch. Admittedly, his “Marquez!” sounded a great deal like “Woof!” and then unmitigated face-licking, so we wanted to press him further and asked him what his favorite Marquez story was and he answered, “One Of These Days.” Still we were skeptical so, as if to quelch our concerns, he burrowed his muzzle into the paperback and opened the book straight to the story.

If you’ve never had the chance to read the story, here it is. Rest assured, it is PJ approved

One of These Days
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"Monday dawned warm and rainless. Aurelio Escovar, a dentist without a degree, and a very early riser, opened his office at six. He took some false teeth, still mounted in their plaster mold, out of the glass case and put on the table a fistful of instruments which he arranged in size order, as if they were on display. He wore a collarless striped shirt, closed at the neck with a golden stud, and pants held up by suspenders. He was erect and skinny, with a look that rarely corresponded to the situation, the way deaf people have of looking.

When he had things arranged on the table, he pulled the drill toward the dental chair and sat down to polish the false teeth. He seemed not to be thinking about what he was doing, but worked steadily, pumping the drill with his feet, even when he didn’t need it.

After eight he stopped for a while to look at the sky through the window, and he saw two pensive buzzards who were drying themselves in the sun on the ridgepole of the house next door. He went on working with the idea that before lunch it would rain again. The shrill voice of his eleven year-old son interrupted his concentration.

"Papa."

"What?"

"The Mayor wants to know if you’ll pull his tooth."

"Tell him I’m not here."

He was polishing a gold tooth. He held it at arm’s length, and examined it with his eyes half closed. His son shouted again from the little waiting room.

"He says you are, too, because he can hear you."

The dentist kept examining the tooth. Only when he had put it on the table with the finished work did he say:

"So much the better."

He operated the drill again. He took several pieces of a bridge out of a cardboard box where he kept the things he still had to do and began to polish the gold.

"Papa."

"What?"

He still hadn’t changed his expression.

"He says if you don’t take out his tooth, he’ll shoot you."

Without hurrying, with an extremely tranquil movement, he stopped pedaling the drill, pushed it away from the chair, and pulled the lower drawer of the table all the way out. There was a revolver. “O.K.,” he said. “Tell him to come and shoot me.”

He rolled the chair over opposite the door, his hand resting on the edge of the drawer. The Mayor appeared at the door. He had shaved the left side of his face, but the other side, swollen and in pain, had a five-day-old beard. The dentist saw many nights of desperation in his dull eyes. He closed the drawer with his fingertips and said softly:

"Sit down."

"Good morning," said the Mayor.

"Morning," said the dentist.

While the instruments were boiling, the Mayor leaned his skull on the headrest of the chair and felt better. His breath was icy. It was a poor office: an old wooden chair, the pedal drill, a glass case with ceramic bottles. Opposite the chair was a window with a shoulder-high cloth curtain. When he felt the dentist approach, the Mayor braced his heels and opened his mouth.

Aurelio Escovar turned his head toward the light. After inspecting the infected tooth, he closed the Mayor’s jaw with a cautious pressure of his fingers.

"It has to be without anesthesia," he said.

"Why?"

"Because you have an abscess."

The Mayor looked him in the eye. “All right,” he said, and tried to smile. The dentist did not return the smile. He brought the basin of sterilized instruments to the worktable and took them out of the water with a pair of cold tweezers, still without hurrying. Then he pushed the spittoon with the tip of his shoe, and went to wash his hands in the washbasin. He did all this without looking at the Mayor. But the Mayor didn’t take his eyes off him.

It was a lower wisdom tooth. The dentist spread his feet and grasped the tooth with the hot forceps. The Mayor seized the arms of the chair, braced his feet with all his strength, and felt an icy void in his kidneys, but didn’t make a sound. The dentist moved only his wrist. Without rancor, rather with a bitter tenderness, he said:

"Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men."

The Mayor felt the crunch of bones in his jaw, and his eyes filled with tears. But he didn’t breathe until he felt the tooth come out. Then he saw it through his tears. It seemed so foreign to his pain that he failed to understand his torture of the five previous nights.

Bent over the spittoon, sweating, panting, he unbuttoned his tunic and reached for the handkerchief in his pants pocket. The dentist gave him a clean cloth.

"Dry your tears," he said.

The Mayor did. He was trembling. While the dentist washed his hands, he saw the crumbling ceiling and a dusty spider web with spider’s eggs and dead insects. The dentist returned, drying his hands. “Go to bed,” he said, “and gargle with salt water.” The Mayor stood up, said goodbye with a casual military salute, and walked toward the door, stretching his legs, without buttoning up his tunic.

"Send the bill," he said.

"To you or the town?"

The Mayor didn’t look at him. He closed the door and said through the screen:

"It’s the same damn thing."

The Perfect Summer Tipple for People Who Use the Word Tipple

A Not-So-Proper Pimm’s Cup (our variant on the British classic)

We were recently gifted a bottle of Pimm’s #1 and, coupled with a trip to the Fruit and Spice market where we came back with, among other things, a quarter pound of lavender buds, we decided to whip up a twist on the standard Pimm’s Cup.

It’s an easy enough drink to make, thereby making it a pretty easy drink to riff on.

Here’s our recipe:
2 oz Pimm’s #1
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz lavender syrup (1:1:1—one cup sugar, water, lavender)
1 oz ginger beer (not ale, beer)
3 cucumber wheels (save one for garnish)

Muddle two cucumber wheels together with simple.
Add Pimm’s and lemon juice to shaker.
Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Top with ginger beer (We used Reed’s)
Garnish with cucumber.
Voila!

Something tells me we’re going to have a new summer staple around these parts.

Diving Into The Wreck

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

DIVING INTO THE WRECK

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

The Vibrant Bear It Away

Flannery O’ Connor The Complete Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971)

In honor of what would’ve been Flannery O’Connor’s 87th birthday earlier this week, here is the only audio (to my knowledge) of her reading her most famous, most anthologized short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” If you’ve never read it, it’s got a petulant grandmother, a psychopath on the loose and a family on a road trip to Florida. Find a copy of it here.

I think my favorite story might be—ask me again tomorrow and I’ll change my answer—"Parker’s Back," which has this to say about it’s main character:

"Parker had never before felt the least motion of wonder in himself. Until he saw the [tattooed] man at the fair, it did not enter his head that there was anything out of the ordinary about the fact that he existed. Even then it did not enter his head, but a peculiar unease settled in him. It was as if a blind boy had been turned so gently in a different direction that he did not know his destination had been changed."

Flannery O’Connor passed away at the age of 39, having written two novels and two short story collections, the last of which, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” was published posthumously.

You can read her obituary here.

Gone Wild

Spring Break, 1983, or Where Have You Gone David Lee Roth?

In honor of Spring Break, here’s a tequila punch that’s sure to leave you face down in the sand so that your dear friends can draw something substantially foul on your back using sunblock, leaving you with a reminder—albeit a temporary one—of the killer time you had in Daytona, Lake Havasu, Cancun, or whatever destination you’ve chosen as the site from which to ruin your chances at gainful employment. You can thank us later.

Preparation is as follows.

1. Combine one 750 ml bottle of tequila (we used Espolon Reposado), two cups pineapple juice, one cup orange juice and 3/4 cup of lime juice in a punch bowl, a big enough mason jar, or a large pot if need be.

2. Stir kindly.

3. Peel and chop one whole pineapple and toss into the punch.

4. For the sweetener, make a spicy serrano syrup. Add one cup.

4a. The syrup I made was 60/40 (sugar/water), and I added two whole peppers—sliced, seeds and all—and let it cook for about fifteen minutes. I strained the syrup, waited until it cooled, then added the full cup.

4b. The thing with serrano peppers is that the heat comes on towards the back of the drink, after the sweetness. It pairs really nicely with the pineapple and I enjoyed it hot, but the party seemed divided. A few found the heat to pile on after a few drinks. For the second batch I used half a cup of the serrano syrup and half a cup of agave and that seemed to be to more people’s liking. Might 3/4 cup of syrup and 1/4 cup of agave be the happy medium? Perhaps. You can fiddle with this measurement to your liking.

5. Peel two oranges, two lemons and one grapefruit.

6. Give the peels a squeeze and toss them in the punch.

7. Take a handful of fresh sage, toss that in as well.

8. Put the punch in the fridge and marinate over night.

8a. If you’re looking to serve this right away, don’t bother with the peels. You are, however, going to need to chill the punch. The easiest way is to take one of those plastic quart containers (think take-out soup), fill it with water and freeze it, then use it as a giant ice cube.

9. The next day, strain the punch and pour it into your serving container. If you are using a punch bowl, garnish your punch with fresh pineapple wedges (so folks can eat them if they’d like), a few lime wheels, and a fresh sprig of sage.

9a. I opted to serve mine in a rocks glass (see pic), with crushed ice (what doesn’t crushed ice make better?), and garnished it with basil instead of sage because I wanted something herbal and fragrant in your nose to help round out the spice and sweetness.

9b. If you’re taking it to the beach, you’ll need a cooler, two thermoses, ice and a pack of the official cup of binge drinkers everywhere.

10. Bottoms up.

10a. Given that this is a Spring Break post I feel obligated to clarify. Step 10 is meant to be taken figuratively, referring to your cup.

Get In The Van

Psst. Hombre. Have you heard about the librotraficante caravan kicking off today? In direct response to a segment of Arizona’s controversial HB 2281 that prohibits Tucson area schools from offering courses in ethnic studies and, as a result, has banned ninety-three titles from their school systems, the librotraficantes, a group of writers and activists, led by Houston-based novelist Tony Diaz will be trekking from Houston to Tucson in an effort to “smuggle” banned books back into the state. Along the way, there will be readings, teach-ins, the creation of “underground libraries” supplied with, at least, one complete set of all the banned books and a taco-truck handing out free copies of the aforementioned banned books.

To read more about the librotraficantes (as well as an interview with founder, Tony Diaz) click here.

For the complete schedule of events and how you can help, click here.

For a complete list of the banned books, scroll to the bottom of the librotraficante home page. And prepare to cry, Auxilio!

If It Ain’t Broken, . .

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Broken Shaker, a pop-up bar experience by the mad geniuses of Bar-Lab. If you’ve never had the pleasure of soaking in their libations, the Broken Shaker is the perfect opportunity to experience what they do best.

Yes, the Broken Shaker is a pop-up. This means that in six months, it’s out of here. Last night, on its grand opening, two drinks in—a rum punch followed by a spicy tequila drink that Elad just handed to me and said, Trust me, you’re going to like it; he was wrong, I loved it—I had a moment of profound sadness thinking, this thing will soon vanish from us. I can be dramatic like that.

Yes, their cocktails are all priced at $11. Let that sink in. $11. I’ll forever contend that the biggest obstacle to drinking well in Miami isn’t the scarcity of venues, it’s the price gouging. $11 is a dream come true. When you visit, remember to thank the boys. And tip well. You just saved at least $5 on that drink.

And yes, there’s a small food menu as well as a punch bowl option that goes for $70 and can quench between four to eight people. Do the math on that, and say goodbye to bottle service.

If you want to read a more informed article, and certainly a more comprehensive one—an article much better than the one I’m about to write—about the Broken Shaker, click here.

(It’s great, right? I read it last night between brushing my teeth and choosing which v-neck to rock and it got me so pumped that I switched the iPod from Lou Rawls to the new Weeknd record.)

Here’s my one beef from the article:

“Think Paris meets New Orleans and lets New York tag along.”

Maybe Paris, New Orleans and New York were the aesthetic cues the guys were taking as they built the place. That’s fine. I can live with that. I visited the boys for a few minutes two weeks back when the space was nothing, literally nothing, but a green wall and a lone shelf, and having to carefully appoint a venue with the vibe you carry in your heart must require shorthand cues like: think Paris, New Orleans, New York.

But if I were asked that question (as a patron, not proprietor), I wouldn’t think to compare the Broken Shaker to either of those cities. Or to any cities at all. What I’d offer up, instead is: It is the most perfect vision of Miami Miami could ever hope for.

You see, it grates my nerves whenever something beautiful and true appears among us and the very first thing we do is compare it to somewhere else.

Everybody loves The Corner in downtown and the most common reaction I hear is: It reminds me of New York. Check out their Yelp page for Pete’s (who the hell is Pete?) sake. Someone says New York (4xs), someone says Chicago, someone says San Diego, someone says Portland. Hell, someone says, they’d thumb their nose at this place if it were in Brooklyn, but in Miami, it’s kickass!

“It reminds me of New York” has become a euphemism for “this place is so cool, what’s it doing here?”

Dear Miami, when are we going to stop doing this to ourselves? When are we going to finally start comparing Miami to Miami? What’s it going to take for us to finally treat ourselves like a real city, not a stereotype, not hyperbole, but a real place with a real identity?

Let’s start here. Miami is not neon, Cubans, the Miami Heat, or David fucking Carradine.

There are not two sides to Miami: South Beach, and everything else.

There are two billion sides to Miami: Churchill’s Hideaway, nacatamales, Little Israel, gas station Jamaican patties, European man thongs, stray dogs, stray cats, stray chickens, voodoo, amateur pornography, Charles Willeford, El Rey de Las Fritas, air boats, air conditioning, Robert is Here, DJ Laz and five million psychopathic motorists redefining the meaning of death-defying.

And now, you can add the Broken Shaker to that list.

For starters, it’s located inside the Indian Creek Hotel, a gorgeous art deco hotel first built in 1936. Step inside and it’s a vision of Florida that includes seersucker suits and wicker ceiling fans. The floors are terrazzo. The walls are the color of cake. And it’s peaceful inside, cozy and comfortable. You can finally take a break and get back to that Grace Paley collection you started weeks ago.

Walk through the lobby to the outdoor courtyard and you’ll find the Broken Shaker. You can’t miss it. It’s that beautiful little nook you fell for at first site. Really, there’s no understating the tremendous job these dudes accomplished here. You would’ve thought this bar has been here since the hotel’s inception, that’s how carefully Gabe and Elad planned their pop-up.

The cabinets, in fact every shelf you see, was built and installed by the guys. Their glassware collection, collected by them. The insane roster of homemade bitters, syrups and tinctures, theirs and theirs alone. The library of cocktail books, curated. The beautiful assortment of cocktail accouterments, years of hunting and hoarding.

There are a few tables, café-style, inside the actual bar, but the real gem of the space is the hotel’s courtyard and garden. I doubt Paris ever saw palm trees this perfect. I doubt New York ever had a pool as intimate and pretense-free as the one here. I doubt New Orleans has ever pumped Joe Arroyo’s La Rebellion through its speakers as un-ironically as the Broken Shaker did last night.

In short, The Broken Shaker is the bar you’ve been waiting for your entire life. It’s the bar I’ve been waiting for my entire life. No velvet rope. No bottle service. No guest list. Exceptionally-priced drinks made exceptionally well. Outside seating. Surrounded by the kind of jungle foliage that can only be found in the tropics. A perfectly curated set list supplying the tunes. (Fellas, any chance we can squeeze some Joe Bataan in?) And an enormous parking lot, one block away, that’s free after 6 pm.

Dear Miami, go check out the Broken Shaker. Asap. And when you leave (imbibe responsibly, pretty please) I dare you to tell me it’s not the most Miami place you’ve ever been.

In the best possible way.

The Odd Couple

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey + Pastelitos de Guayaba

I’ve always been surprised at how few bars and restaurants fail to combine South Florida’s sleepy Southern town lineage with its new found (relatively speaking) international cosmopolitanism. Seems to me there’s a whole range of flavors and pairings that have largely gone unexplored.

For instance, you may take a look at this tray of guava pastries and say to yourself, yeah, I’d devour a half dozen of those with some cafe con leche or a soda (Materva!) or, more than likely, a lager or two. And you’d be in good company. I think most folks would join you. But in each of these cases (coffee, soda, beer) there’s an aspect of flavor that either overpowers the pastry or flat out changes the taste. Neither of these drinks compliments the pastelito in an exciting and surprising way.

Next time your abuelita is turning eighty, bring over a bottle of Four Roses and tell your dad, your step-dad, your uncles, your cousins, your cousin’s cousins, to put down what they’re drinking (it’s Johnny Black, isn’t it?) and try this on for size.

Vanilla in the bourbon. Butter in the dough.
Cinnamon notes from the oak. The sweet, sweet guava.
The long spicy finish. The sticky mouthful of jam and pastry.

A match made in heaven I tell you.

Ringin’ It in Right!

Champagne Barnaut Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs (approx $45)

Come the New Year, there’s no shortage of bizarro rituals intended to hedge your bets for a fantastic new year. Some folks swallow twelve green grapes at the stroke of midnight for luck. Some walk around the block with their luggage for safe travels. Some sleep with a potato underneath their bed for, . . well, I really have no idea what this one’s for, maybe for a killer growing season?

We here at Cabinet Beer Baseball Club like to start our year off right by drinking something fantastic. Hence, our champagne toast this year was the Barnaut Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs, a champagne that surprises at every sip. This is a wine made entirely from pinot noir grapes (ie. blanc de noirs) which, through some process too complicated for me to try and understand, produces a beautifully colored champagne with a nose and taste comparable to green apples, pear and fresh toast. The mouthfeel is silky and the finish is long but crisp. Also, because of the aforementioned super-complicated process, you’ll find little to no tannins in this wine so, while the finish is long you’ll find no lingering bitterness here. No overt tartness either. In fact, you might say this champagne makes for a damn good metaphor for all our hopes and dreams for the coming year. Long finish. No overt tartness. Keepin’ it fresh and silky.

To love, luck and all the playoff appearances you can muster.

Happy 2012!