Editors' pick

Barmini

American
$$$$ ($15-$24)
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The sister to Jose Andres's Minibar is a sleek cocktail bar with a menu of more than 100 drinks, from new creations to takes on classic cocktails.
Light fare and drinks Tuesday through Saturday. By reservation only.
(Chinatown)
Gallery Place-Chinatown (Green, Red, Yellow lines)
202-393-4451
76 decibels (Must speak with raised voice)
'

Editorial Review

2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013

If you want a taste of tomorrow today, reserve a seat at Barmini, the futuristic lounge adjoining Minibar, the daring dinner theater from Spanish ambassador Jose Andres. Barmini is the playground of "cocktail innovator" Juan Coronado and home to some of the most fascinating liquids this city has ever sipped.

Enter the Highlander, which, Coronado says, "embodies the smokiness and earthiness of my favorite lands for spirits: Scotland and Oaxaca." Scotch whisky and mezcal with a touch of simple syrup are joined in their glass by a "cloud" made from creme de cocoa, rosemary and citrus peels in combination with liquid carbon dioxide. Dispensed from a decanter, the fragrant fog lingers in the glass for several entertaining minutes.

See the Japanese coffee percolator? Coronado and team use it to make vermouth, a la minute, from wine, spices, herbs and wood chips. Outstretched plaster hands on the wall cup lemons and limes that the bartenders might ask patrons to pluck for making a drink.

Sampling a menu of more than 100 drinks, classics included, requires sustenance. The snacks are every bit as whimsical as the drinks. Barmini's version of chips and dip translates as pork rinds, green with kaffir lime, and yogurt tweaked with tamarind sauce and lime zest. A glam twist on a lobster roll finds the seafood slipped into brioche and draped with mayonnaise foam, and if the adorable banh mi burgers leave you wanting more, it may be because they're super-juicy with (aha!) bone marrow.

The choice seats are at the tall white counter that look onto the all-white drinks lab, although an overstuffed chair in the shape of a cactus makes for a good photo op, too.