Last night in Washington, DC, chef José Andrés revealed the top-secret project he's been hinting at for days on Twitter: a brand new "culinary cocktail lab" next to minibar named, fittingly, barmini. As Andrés explained in a speech introducing the concept, barmini will not only "pay homage to the golden era of cocktails and forgotten techniques," as the press release indicates, but also it will serve as a way to experience minibar without the $225 per person price tag.
Andrés recalled standing outside New York famed La Grenouille when he was younger and in the Navy, thinking to himself, "Wow, I don't belong there, and if I did belong there, I didn't have the money." So it is that memory that partially inspires barmini when it opens on February 15.
Barmini will have an extensive list of 100 cocktails that will change seasonally and, in true minibar fashion, they will involve a lot of airs, emulsifiers, carbonation, espumas, extractions and infusions adding twists on drinks like the whiskey sour and the margarita. Barmini also has its own rotovap, pictured to the right, which apparently can cost upwards of $15,000. To name a few drinks, the Big in Japan will feature a mescal marshmallow with Japanese whiskey, salers and suze, and the Scandinavian Cup is made with coriander aquavit, white vermouth, grapefruit bitters, absinthe and Viking syrup. Think Food Group's Cocktail Innovator Juan Coronado will be running barmini, which will also serve as a lab to develop cocktail programs for the rest of the groups restaurants.
There are also going to be some bar snacks at barmini coming straight from the kitchen at the adjoining minibar. Per the release, these include: mac uni; minibar Philly cheesesteak; butternut squash meringue with yogurt and honey; and Pan de Cristal con tomate and Ibérico de Bellota ham. Cocktail prices range from $14-20, while snacks range from $5-16.
[Photo: Ken Wyner/TFG]
Barmini has a fairly whimsical design that should come as no surprise to anyone who has been to any of José Andrés' restaurants. It features all white pod counters, hand molds affixed to the wall holding fruit, a cactus sofa with apple-shaped ottomans and more. Eater DC has a ton more photos of the space (as well as the newly reinvented minibar space) from last night's event.
While the 23-seat barmini is intended to be a window into the world of minibar — complete with an actual window into minibar — it will also be operating under a reservations-only system that has made minibar one of the toughest reservations to get the world. Speaking of which, the press release also reveals that minibar is switching over to a seasonal reservation system, meaning reservations for March through July will open up on February 15.
[Photo: Ken Wyner/TFG]
Of course, comparisons to Grant Achatz's Aviary in Chicago are inevitable. As Bloomberg critic Ryan Sutton pointed out last night, the Think Food Group even released its own trailer for barmini, below:
Video: José Andrés presents barmini
Finally, here is the entire exhaustive menu of cocktails that will be available at barmini, in order by spirit:
Barmini Menu by