Minibar Restaurant and Barmini by José Andrés, is an avant-garde dining experience and testing grounds for all of José Andrés concepts and projects. It was impossible to get into Minibar without ample notice, but I was super excited to get a reservation at the bar (the place to be) at Barmini, the cocktail lab adjacent to the Michelin 2 Star Minibar. A coveted stool at the bar is the best place for watching the action unfold.

Barmini is a unique concept offering classic and modern over the top cocktail creations. In fact, the menu offers more than 100 libations in addition to experimental flights and inventive and delicious bar snacks.

Located in the Penn Quarter neighbourhood of Washington DC at 855 E St. NW Washington.

It has been a while since I’ve been this excited and giddy about an establishment. I’m a bit jaded and not easily impressed, but I can assure you that you will indeed see groundbreaking cocktails designed to thrill the senses. Our evening was playful, whimsical and cutting edge. This bar can be listed among the worlds best as far as service, elevated small plates and bar snacks, and classic or experimental drinks. Although not cheap, they also won’t be the standard cocktails you are used to.

The room is modern, small and futuristic looking. There is a wall of hands, clutching fruits, interesting couches and chairs. Vintage glassware is used for all the drinks. The room is mostly white with a few bold accents.

You can see a connection between the bar and the kitchen, with a gastronomic approach to not only the food but the cocktails as well, with techniques, flavour and composition that will blow your mind. There is so many things to choose from on the menu and it can get overwhelming. But do not fear just ask your personal barchef, or team leader to help guide you. He will ask your likes and dislikes and you can leave the choices in his capable hands if you wish. Or, if you have 2 hours to spare and $90 per person, you can go with the cocktail flight. This season, the theme was “cocktail land”, and after your welcome cocktail, there were pre made choices. There were things like Down the Rabbit Hole, Abracadabra, Saturday Morning Cartoons and If you build it…

The only rules are, leave your cares at the door, summon your curiosity, playfulness, and sense of wonder. Try to remember your childhood, and be a little nostalgic. Our neighbours at the bar opted for this and it was interesting to see how they incorporated cartoons, lego, beachballs, mini teacups, and so on. It was a real theatrical experience, but although whimsical, the drinks were first rate.

We opted for a few signature cocktails instead, and ordered about four bar snacks as well. One drink was called the Apollo, and came in a metal spaceship, served on dry ice. We also tried a negroni, infused with thyme in a beautiful glass. We tried the mini grilled cheese with truffle, the salmon tartare with warm homemade mini buns. The liquid olives were a perfect riff from Tickets and Il Bulli in Spain. We also tried a flight of three waffles, one topped with mushrooms, one with wagyu beef and an amazing one with foie gras and nuts.

We had cocktails that went from liquid to solid, and made a delicious intermezzo, or another that formed a frozen barrier on top and could be held upside down without leaking out. We even enjoyed a bowl of cereal while watching cartoons. Except the cereal had brandy, black walnut, angostura cereal, caramelized milk, and vanilla.

This is no ordinary bar. Your personal barman will put on a show mixing things like tea, or mexcal, ginger, rosé vermouth, lavender, maple, peach, coconut, infused vodkas, gold leaf, lemongrass and the list goes on. Our team member was named Ismail, and he did not disappoint. We let him know our flavour profiles and he made it happen for us. They will even make non-alcoholic drinks for you as well.

Barmini is a real original, with an upscale, jet-set, power couples and corporate crowd. Sit back and watch the chemists go to work. It is like science meets art, and this place is one hot ticket.

Highly recommend.

Happy dining,

Shanea

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