Photos By Andy DelGiudice, Words By Kaylee Dugan
José Andrés knows exactly what he’s doing. He is a man on a mission, and that mission is two fold. 1. He is going to send you on vacation. Yes, get excited because you are floating down to the islands for less than the price of a Bolt Bus ticket. 2. He is going to put you in the most delicious, loving, drunken coma you’ve ever been in. He is going to succeed at doing both of those because, let’s be real, like DJ Khaled, all the man does is win.
You may be wondering how he is going to do this. I understand. I’m sure you have many questions. You are saying, “Kaylee, I don’t have time to go on vacation,” or possibly, “Kaylee, I don’t even know José Andrés like that, I’m not comfortable floating down to the Caribbean with him.” Do not worry. You won’t need to take up any of your precious vacation time. All you need to do is get yourself over to Barmini, sometime between right now and July 11th and then, and this step is very important, you need to drink everything that has a little tiki next to it on the menu. Shhhh. Trust me.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample some of Andrés’ new Tiki Week concoctions, and let me tell you, they are delightful. Not only will the glassware bring a smile to your face (and make your want to invest in a lot of new glassware), but the drinks themselves have the ability to conjure up specific places and emotions. One sip and you really are fully transported to a lovely tropical beach, but don’t think these are your average tiki drinks. While many do lean sweet, they are not the gross syrupy blue curacao ridden drinks you gulp down at the nearest tourist trap. Andrés’ drinks draw from traditional tiki recipes, where the precious balance between sweet, tart, and earthy reign supreme.
The perfect example of the traditional tiki drink is the stunning Treasure Box. Three different mini Mai Tai’s are presented in a gorgeous wooden box oozing with a pineapple smoke. The first, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai is the definition of a classic tiki drink with rum, orgeat, and lime juice. The next Mai Tai, Don the Beachcomber is rum heavy but leans tarter than the first. Finally, Jose Andrés’ Mai Tai is the sweetest of the bunch, upfront it is all boozy pineapple, but that quickly dissipates into an earthy nuttiness brought on by the orgeat.
If you like your drinks a little more challenging, and Barmini is most certainly known for challenging their guests. Try the What-a-melon! A mixture of tequila, watermelon, honey, lime, it’s topped off with a feta air and garnished with black pepper. The combination is classic savory and sweet, and while it might be hard to get past slurping down a foam that tastes exactly like cheese, the more adventurous of us will be pleasantly surprised.
Or you could go in the other direction and get something sweet with a twist. We 100% fell in love with the hilariously named Mohan Travels to Peru and Gets a Haircut which combines pisco, dark rum, walnut liqueur, chicha morada (a sweet drink from Peru made with blue corn, sugar, cinnamon, and clove), and a “Mohawk” rosemary garnish. This drink is so good it is probably going to ruin someone’s life. I mean that in the best way. The combinations of pisco, walnut, and chicha morada immediately reminds of Christmas in July (which is also my nickname for it). It’s sweet, spicy, aromatic, and as Carly Rae Jepsen would say, “let it hit you cool and hot.”
Some of our other favorites include Childhood in Paradise, made with mezcal, aged rum, falernum, mango, chipotle, lime, it’s sweet smoky flavor makes you feel as if you’re sitting by a bonfire on a moonlit beach. A delicious bonfire. If you’re all spice all the time, Ticket to Phuket combines aquavit, ginger, honey, lime, Thai basil, Thai chili, and comes with an eye dropper that allows you to make the drink even spicier as needed.
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention one of Andrés’ favorite Tiki Week drinks, the Iz Kamakawiwo’ole. It’s a clean and simple drink made up of rum, limoncello, lime, absinthe that comes with a delicious guava popsicle. How you drink it is up to you, some people eat the popsicle while sipping on the drink, some let the popsicle melt in the drink, infusing it with that delicious guava taste. Either way, it’s delicious. Everything is. Would José Andrés and his incredible staff ever lead you wrong?
Tiki Week at Barmini, 855 E St NW Washington D.C., runs through July 11.