A password will be e-mailed to you.

Though Washington D.C. is finally turning heads on the national culinary scene, there are still a few names and places that linger in memory from a time before all eyes were on our city. “José Andrés” is a name that resonates as a mark of quality with people inside and outside the beltway.

Spanish restaurateur José Andrés Puerta is one of the District’s culinary pioneers, and it’s wonderful to see that even so many years later, many of his creations and projects remain relevant. Barmini/Minibar has long been one of D.C.’s standard bearers for cocktails, with a crew of supremely talented, friendly, and creative bartenders, led by Head Bartender Jose “Chuck” Rivera. As the August air clung thick with record levels of heat and humidity, a group of about thirty of us were ushered into the crisp air-conditioned dining room at Barmini for an after-work, hands-on lesson in crafting classic cocktails. The house punch – with hints of orange peel, lemon zest, and exceedingly refreshing, was a welcome cooling elixir.

Welcome Punch
Barmini’s staff were incredibly welcoming and clear in their instructions, guiding patrons patiently through a history of each cocktail on offer: an Aviation, a Dark and Stormy, and finally, the Sazerac – often referred to as the first American-invented modern cocktail.
Sazerac History
The Aviation was light, zesty, and artfully presented, as the bar staff poured gorgeous billows of hibiscus tea smoke into everyone’s glass, adding complexity and aroma to each drink without changing the essence of the drinks.
Aviation + Smoke
The Dark and Stormy – a recipe that is actually owned by Gosling’s Rum in a curious case of vertical brand integration – was prepared with Barmini’s own house-made ginger beer, and packed quite the punch. Served in gorgeous highball glasses with a gold leaf finish, the bartenders helped us all get the recipes just right.
Dark and Stormy
In between each round of drinks, servers distributed incredibly flavorful hors d’oeuvres – miniature truffle and honey butter grilled cheese sandwiches, wagyu beef tartare with uni on croquant bread, and finally apple meringue and foie gras “Peeps” that upended all cognitive expectations. It was sour and sweet and fatty and nutty – simply unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The influence of molecular gastronomy is visible in the outer reaches of this experience, and in the painstaking attention to detail at every step.
Peeps Plate
The Sazerac was a lovely way to finish off the cocktail class, with the rye whiskey flanked by hints of absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, and lemon oil extracted from a fresh peel. Smooth and velvety in its mouth-feel, it was a delicious drink on a hot and sticky-night that felt more like the Big Easy than Penn Quarter.
Sazerac + Peep
All in all, Barmini’s cocktail classes are a great way to learn a little bit about mixology, meet some interesting people who share a love of food and drink, and to get started on the path to impressing (or really annoying) your friends with new skills and knowledge.